Some say it’s the most wonderful time of the year. People like receiving, but they like giving too. Bernice Bowmaker-Falconer, serial charity giver and all round do-gooder, tells us the benefits of giving around this time of the year.
Shopping is terrifying for me. Shopping malls intimidate me: I never find what I need when I have the money to spend, and always see what I want when I don’t. Queues for one purchase and pushing and shoving for the sale items make the insides of my stomach quiver and I would quite honestly be ‘so last season’ instead of going through all the hassle.
But, ‘tis the season to be jolly and I face all of the above with a hum on my lips and a skip in my step, and I do it like a pro. And I am convinced that it is because I am not doing it for me.
And I don’t think that I am that different from many others.
Most of us love to give. Love to see the look on someone’s surprised and happy face. Love to find that ‘perfect gift’. Love to give. The gift of giving – perhaps a little bit of a clichéd sentiment, but one that I can totally relate to. One that if, the above doesn’t at all relate to you, I dare you to try. Differently.
You see, the thing is that giving doesn’t only have to come in the shape of divinely wrapped purchased items. In fact your gift to most of the population could be as simple as giving.
The fact is this: if you are reading this article right now from the screen on your computer, your smartphone or tablet, you are better off than more than half of the world. And I bet you’ve submitted your wish list to Santa already. What if on everyone’s letter to Santa they wrote about something for someone else. Orphaned children or homeless animals. Empty tummies are real, Santa isn’t. You are real – humanity isn’t – unless it’s about doing a little more for someone else.
I guess the task of giving can be a little daunting. What do you give? And to whom? How do you do it? Where do you send it? But the truth is that there are so many charities, homes, organisations and NGOs that have that covered for you. It really is as simple as a little bit of research, a teeny-weeny bit of organising, maybe a drop-off, but not necessarily, and voila. You have made difference.
Here are some ideas to get you started, or thinking, or both.
- Clothing: that over-sized woollen jersey that you haul out once every two years only to keep the moths from nesting in could save a life this winter.
- Food: budget for an additional few pounds a month to spend on dry food and drop it off at your nearest shelter. Or better yet, offer to help them cook and serve the meal – be part of the cause.
- Time: gather some of your close friends and arrange for all of you to go to a nearby children’s hospital or shelter, to just spend time. Take crayons and books, read stories and play games. Time is after-all the best gift of all.
- Money: not all of us have a lot of it, and sometimes it’s hard to track how it is being spent – so start a small change bank – contact a neighbouring school and ask them to accept the donation as a contribution to a promising, but struggling child’s education fee, extra mural fee or lunch cost.
Those are the simple ones. The necessities. The items most of us take for granted.
I am not asking for the whole world to become heroes overnight. I am not demanding that you feel guilty for being excited at the thought of a gift under a Christmas tree. I am not suggesting that any of this is less important. I am merely saying that the other stuff, the stuff we generally turn away from, is important too.
An episode of Friends once told me that there is no such thing as a selfless act of giving, because giving makes you feel good so therefore there is something in it for you too. Well, if Joey Tribbiani was right, then there really isn’t much reason not to do it, is there? Even being the world’s most selfish person wouldn’t give you that right. Just try it and see if you would like to do it again.