The season of giving and generosity is upon us. The familiar red kettles, bells being rung by their sides, will be filled with loose change, dollar bills and the occasional anonymous, newsworthy contribution. Holiday trees adorn many department stores, decorated with wish list tags for families or children whose address may not be on Santa’s route. Lions Clubs, Cub Scouts, schools and churches deliver holiday food boxes to families and individuals who otherwise may not have much of a feast. We will watch classic movies, cringing at the stinginess of Ebenezer Scrooge and cheering the daffy generosity of Clark Griswold. We will see made for TV specials featuring down on their luck single moms and struggling elderly folks, all in need of a bit of Christmas magic and love from a benevolent stranger.
It makes us feel good to give during the holidays. We want to donate and we want to think that perhaps we had a hand in making Christmas a little more special for someone in need. And yet, those same exact folks we are so happy to assist on Thanksgiving and Christmas may be going to bed hungry once our trees are untrimmed and our decorations are put away for the season. They may not have heat in their homes, medical care or warm clothing. Why do we transform them, in our minds, from strangers worthy of our Christmas spirit into dregs unworthy of our compassion? Why, in our minds, do we magically morph the working poor, the elderly, and the indigent, into drug-addicted thugs who just want something for nothing? Perhaps our conscience is more comfortable turning it’s back to that image than it is to the holiday image.
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” Charles Dickins