It 'tis season for giving
It's late Sunday and I just finished packing for my trip to Montana where I will spend a week with my sons and family. Other than being tired from all the activities of the season: the cards, gifts, parties, etc., I am excited to be heading back to the ranch where I grew up and the slopes where I learned to ski.
I've felt for a long time and clearly understand what the Christmas spirit is and have no problem separating the real meaning of Christmas with the day-to-day rat race that this time of the year brings. In the newspaper business, like a lot of other businesses, especially retail, this is the season where we work extra hard to bring you the messages, stories and photos of the activities in town. For whatever reason, it seems as though I covered (took pictures and wrote stories) about more angel trees, Subs for Santa projects and food bank contributions than ever before.
Over the past month I have seen first hand the behind the scenes work that goes into making a joyous season for everyone. I am still in awe of the hard work, the generosity, the sharing, caring, the reaching out and overwhelming donations that this community gives. It makes my heart feel good.
But along with these feelings and these first hand observances of how deep people dig to make sure others have gifts I have heard and seen a few disturbing things and a few ideas about how others make a difference. Its these ideas I find myself pondering as I prepare to head out for the holidays.
I talked to Pam Juliano Saturday and she said that over 850 children in Carbon and Emery counties will get presents this year through the angel tree projects. Many individuals, clubs, organizations and businesses are responsible for purchasing and providing money for these gifts. In many cases children get between $100 and $200 in gifts and some even receive much more than this. If you do the math on this project alone it nets over $100,000 and that is not counting the many other church donations, food bank donations, raffles and drawings that many contribute to going into the final weeks before the holiday.
Some of these gifts are extremely practical like coats, boots and gloves, and many are educational like books, games and videos. But the majority are toys; bags and bags of expensive, beautiful new toys.
In the spirit of Christmas many of these gifts are probably being given by people whose ancestors and parents struggled in tents and rugged buildings in area coal mines at the turn of the century. I bet in many cases those ancestors would have been happy to give their children a couple of small gifts Christmas morning. I know in my case our family was extremely poor and I was excited to get anything on Christmas and it wasn't a $50 or $100 toy or game.
But times have changed and we have raised our children to expect more and more. To me this is sad.
I shook my head Saturday as a beautiful woman in designer jeans and expensive boots drove up in her $40,000-plus truck to make sure her children were on the delivery list for Christmas eve. Somehow she qualified for the free gifts. I want to make sure that every family has a Christmas and I know that there are many extremely poor families in our area, but I also know that people manipulate the system and take advantage of the communitys generosity. How can these people look themselves in the mirror knowing they have taken advantage of someone elses good heart.
One of my co-workers talked to me Friday about a family in the Orem area who stopped giving gifts to each other and spent the money they use to help families in Haiti. Apparently they have started a movement in their area and now others are reaching out too, and helping the really poor people in a country where the basics of food and clothing are needed much more than expensive toys.
It is a season for giving and its in the giving that we receive. I have a feeling that those people who don't understand this and don't see the selfish side of the season will probably not be reading this article but for myself and those countless others who really work hard to make a difference in their community and world, let us reflect how we give and what our giving does to change the world.
I have been truly blessed with a good life, wonderful family and friends, a nice home and satisfying job. This is the season to share our love and our lives with others.