Today, on the day after Christmas, making a commitment to volunteer your time or donating to a worthy cause is a fitting way to wrap up your holiday giving.
Nowadays, in the United States, the Christmas holiday season presents us with a dichotomy encompassing the spirit of giving, while promoting excessive spending and overindulging in food and drink.
We Americans fulfill the spirit of giving with gaily-wrapped packages, Christmas cookie swaps, Toys for Tots donations, family and friend get-togethers, and delicious Christmas dinners. Spending time with our family and friends is a gift regardless of whether any presents change hands or not.
On the flip side, signs of excessive spending include going into debt buying gifts, purchasing presents for people who told you they do not need or want anything (they might actually mean it), or buying everything on everyone’s wish lists.
You may have fallen victim to overindulging if you have been nibbling on Christmas candy and cookies nonstop since the beginning of December, embarrassed yourself at the office Christmas party after drinking too many glasses of wine, or ate so much at Christmas dinner you fell asleep on the couch afterward instead of helping with the dishes.
December is also the busiest time at work for many people who are racing to meet year-end sales goals, finishing client projects, or dealing with Christmas shoppers.
These days Christmas is a more low-key event at our house but as a person with a major sweet tooth, I still overindulge during the holidays. If there are sweets anywhere in the house, even secreted away, I know they are there. Yes, I can hear that box of See’s candy calling me from the laundry room where I have ineffectively hidden it.
You see, we all have our holiday season joys and challenges.
Day after Christmas Giving
Today, Monday, December 26, the day after Christmas, some people are trudging off to work, others are recovering from their Christmas festivities, and some people are kicking back and relaxing.
More than a few gift receivers are heading to stores and post offices intent on exchanging or returning gifts. Seasoned day-after-Christmas shoppers are snapping up Christmas decorations, wrapping materials, and tree trimmings at steeply discounted prices, while highly proactive people (or crazy people depending on your view) are beginning next year’s Christmas shopping.
No matter what your plans are for the day, donating or making a commitment to volunteer your time in service of others is a generous way of closing out the holiday season. It is good karma. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Community Parks, Schoolyards, and Gardens
In your neighborhood, there is likely to be at least one park, schoolyard, or community garden where you can lend a hand even if you do not have a green thumb.
Although shoveling snow off walking paths might be restricted to cold climes, tasks like picking up trash, weeding, and turning compost piles, are probably available during most of the year. If you do not want to get your hands dirty, lend your voice by telling friends and neighbors about the park, schoolyard, or garden, spreading the word on social media, or advocating at a school board or city council meeting.
Perhaps you would enjoy helping your congregation become more environmentally friendly.
Organized religion comprises the largest social networks on the planet with long traditions of conducting outreach programs, setting and achieving goals, and working in teams. These are all the necessary ingredients for successfully implementing green programs.
Interfaith Power & Light and GreenFaith are both national organizations that help people green their own congregations. To find a local group, type “faith-based environmental organizations” and the name of your city and state in your web browser search window.
For those of you who like building stuff with your hands, try installing solar panels for a nonprofit like GRID Alternatives or participating in building a home with Habitat for Humanity for someone who needs one.
If you are a tech-savvy person, offering to build a website for a nonprofit or community group might be just the thing they need. Or, maybe the group could use some assistance setting up social media accounts, which will enable them to get the word out about their organization.
My Day after Christmas Giving
For my day after Christmas giving, I am donating money to One Cool Earth, the nonprofit that grew the two Big Sur Coast redwood tree seedlings I planted in my yard in honor of the Christmas tree in my living room.
Please share your day after Christmas volunteer or donation ideas and actions with other readers.