So I mentioned in a prior post that I try to contribute either my time or money to causes when I can. Money is easier, luckily, because I don't have much time to give. (Not to say I have a lot of money, but certainly enough to share some with those in need).
But I got a big slap in the face this morning on my way to work when it hit me how little I have given and how much I have and how selfish I've been this holiday season. I've spent so much time worrying about buying gifts for my family, about baking cookies for my friends and others (who already have food and shelter), about the gifts I want from others, about decorating the house, about spending time with friends....and the list goes on, all relatively selfish things.
This morning I drove by one of those homeless dudes who stands on the street with a sign, begging for money or food or "anything you can spare". Now I drive by this guy, or one like him, every single work day. Sometimes I notice, sometimes I don't. But today, when it was 20 degrees out and I was cozy in my car and drinking my coffee, thinking about all the cookies I was planning to give away and Christmas presents I have to wrap, I suddenly felt very upset with myself for not bringing this guy some cookies.
I've also been feeling sorry for myself lately over so many (now realized) stupid and unimportant things. I've spent too much money on gifts that I shouldn't have. I've been sick twice in the past month. The Mayor has been crabby a lot lately, making things around the house more challenging. Again, the list goes on. But guess what? I forgot to spend time thinking about all the things I DO have and that are wonderful. Even after I just posted about this very thing (being thankful) around Thanksgiving!!! How quickly we/I forget. I have a wonderful home and family. I am warm and healthy during this cold season. I have the clothes and shoes and coats I need. I eat (too much) whenever I want.
Now I don't know if this guy on the street this morning is REALLY homeless. Maybe and maybe not. But even if he's not, someone else is. And that person or family probably doesn't have ANY of the things I mentioned above. And I won't even get started about the other needy people, such as those that may not be homeless but don't have heat or food, those that don't have shoes that fit to wear in the snow, those that are sick and don't have family to take care of them...etc.
So what am I going to do? I haven't yet decided. Just thinking about these people and being sad does nothing for them. I plan to return with an update of what I've done. Something, anything, to make a difference directly to at least one person in need this holiday season.
Update #1: Just wanted to clarify. I'm not saying I do nothing charitable around the holidays. This year, we've given to 2 toy drives, donated $ to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, and I frequently give cash and change to the Salvation Army bell ringers and to other various collection points. I guess what I'm looking for is some way to impact a person in need more directly. There's just something so rewarding about touching a person directly, for both parties, I think. I volunteered to cook dinner for 35 children with 3 coworkers in a church basement this summer. It was such a wonderful experience. While I feel donating $ to charity is amazing and 100% necessary for their support, I miss seeing and interacting with the people/animals that those charities support. My biggest problem is time. There are many, many organizations looking for volunteers that I would love to donate my time to like I used to before The Mayor was around. Now these chances are few and far between.
Update #2: BIG, FAT FAIL. So, I got really sick right after I first posted this and was on the couch, miserable, for a few days. And then Christmas day was here and it was insane trying to get all the presents wrapped, the house cleaned up, etc. Long story short, I didn't get to do anything good for another in need (aside of our usual donations). I try to do what I say I'm going to do, but this time it just didn't work out. But I will take a lesson away from this and hopefully remember for the future.