Today is Giving Tuesday, which I think is an incredibly awesome idea. That a Friday pseudo-holiday dedicated to shopping is a thing is beyond disturbing to me. Holidays are commodified enough without rubbing away the thin veneer of illusion that holidays are about anything other than consumerism.
Though I have to admit, I do like to shop for gifts. I would pretty much always rather buy things for other people than for myself.
I learned to love giving when I was about eight. It was the first time I had any money, and I biked my three dollars and change a mile down a major road (because it was the early 80s and people didn’t freak out about kids running about on their own yet) to the Hallmark store and bought stickers for everyone on my Christmas list. Stickers, in case you didn’t know, were EVERYTHING in 1983. Hallmark had a wall with dozens of rolls of fancy stickers and you could buy them one at a time for your sticker collection, most for less than a dollar.
I spent hours at the sticker rolls trying to select just the right sticker for each person, never once stopping to think that pretty much no adult on the planet particularly wanted a foil-backed rainbow sticker, no matter how carefully chosen. All I knew was how good it felt to be giving things to people I loved.
Likewise, my first inappropriate credit card binge/debt hole was from buying really nice Christmas presents for everyone I loved (proving that yes, Virginia, you CAN make giving a narcissistic activity).
Fast forward to today: my mom is sick. The short version is that she was born with a whole lot of issues with her large intestine. Sometimes they put her in bed for extended periods of time. Having been in bed for extended periods of time myself, I know how depressing that is. So I sent her a care package. Before you go “aww,” the care package included this:
In addition to cheering her up, I now get to say “mother, don’t wear your colon like a scarf,” AND I get a lovely (if rather plushily graphic) picture of her suggesting that I kiss her ass to use as her contact photo. See? Generosity just pays and pays.
But even when you never find out who benefits or how much joy or relief it brought them, giving is always still worth it. Giving helps us remember that we’re all connected by our humanity and part of a community far larger than our brains are capable of comprehending. And as Terry Pratchett said, “sin…is when you treat people as things.” Today’s as good a day as any to remember to treat people like people by making sure they have the things they need to get by.
Whether you want to give to someone’s personal crisis fundraiser, or a well-rated charity in someone’s name or memory, or donate fancy gourmet brownie mix to your local food pantry/shelter/kitchen, or a pair of novelty Bad-Ass socks to a random homeless person on the street, go exercise your humanity today by acknowledging theirs. And then maybe again tomorrow. And the day after that. And maybe we could just start treating everybody like people every day. that would be something to celebrate.
But for real: don’t wear your colon like a scarf.