These holiday seasons keep getting longer and more expensive, it seems. It is a lonely path to keep them simple and joyful and meaningful. Headlines are about how the consumer is spending a little more than last year, yet we are fairly certain that we cannot expect the “consumer” to lift us out of this protracted and dismal economic morass. We hear many state their argument about who actually creates jobs, while we know in our hearts that we, individually and collectively in real estate sales, have at least created one job; doing our best to be productive and profitable.
My son, a grown man with a very successful career, has known since his teens that he would have to provide for his retirement without counting on our government to provide for him. Should anyone ever assume someone else, or some institution, will take care of them in their old age, or in a time of great need? But back to this holiday season, when I have already shoveled more snow than I did all last winter; it is a beautiful world we live in and our thanks cannot be extended too often. The stories of strangers paying off layaway balances and the generosity we see in the lists of donors to care and needy funds helps us understand that gifts alone are not the meaning of this season. A phrase on a church sign says it well – ” Parents should treat their children to their presence, not to presents” or something along those lines.
When the season beckons again next year, I wonder what I will have set aside for those in dire need? While I enjoy my standard of living, what am I leaving for others? What is leftover from my churning of dollars in and dollars out for those that have lost employment or had massive setbacks due to illness, injury or family dysfunction? If I have allowed my budget a category for giving and donations, it should be distributed that way this time next year. Otherwise, what do I have left to invest in our future and our desire for peace and health? Yes, we usually take pretty good care of ourselves, so why is it hard to give to those that need it more?
Most income these days is a hard fought victory. We can share our success with mentoring, with volunteer hours at a non-profit group that is short-handed, or with our giving a hand to someone that needs it dearly. I didn’t plan ahead financially this year and have nothing to donate except my time. It will be time well spent.