Tis the season of giving

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. – Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities”

Lately, I’ve been writing about giving. I love Thanksgiving, I wrote, because it’s simply about being thankful for the blessings in one’s life. Books, I suggested last week, are perfect stocking-stuffers for they’re about ideas and stories, conflicts and emotions, heroes and nefarious scalawags, all that constitute the human drama.

Christmas, though, has taken on a different twist. The spirit of authentic giving has lost its way in this materialistic Eden in which happiness and joy are bought and sold.

I’d like to study anthropological research into the evolution of giving. I did a quick research, but the articles were primarily about choosing the best gift, therefore of no help understanding the instinct or inclination.

Is giving inherently genetic or a learned behavior? The practice stretches back, but how far? The Romans gave gifts during Saturnalia, and there’s the Christian myth of the Magi. Is giving a western-civilization practice only?

I’ve concluded we give material gifts for two reasons. The first is that it makes us feel good. A thought or feeling, such as gratitude or love, is attached to or projected onto the object. At least, that’s what commercials for the diamond stores and luxury vehicles with bows imply. And Madison Avenue is always spot on, right?

Mega-gifts have evolved into an expensive American ritual. Fashion demands buying the most expensive, glitziest things. Social status depends on not being out-bought. Christmas is ground zero for America’s materialistic binge. Another tango in the keeping up with the Joneses dance.

In pre-plastic days, giving a gift required one to do or make something personal.  Perhaps, bake something special or carve a figurine. Some still do. But the news about Black Friday through Cyber Monday speaks other. Why bake or make when it’s much easier to load up the credit card?

The other reason for giving is that one feels compelled to. That opens a can of worms. Group and personal pressure—guilt and shame—can be miserable to endure. Who wants to be known as a real-life Ebenezer Scrooge? Bah humbug!

Living in Clear Creek enables one to detach from the capitalistic frenzy. There’s an authenticity in people here, as it is in small communities across the country. I, like you then, have already been given a gift. Who needs more?

Children in homes financially stressed homes, that’s who.

Recall the Nativity myth in Matthew. Whether the Magi arrived at Jesus’s birth or two years later is irrelevant. What’s important is the story’s symbolism: Adults bringing gifts to a child.

For over 25 years, the Clear Creek Advocates have sponsored the Santa Shop. The project is comprised of a group of local agencies and citizens that work to ensure the Clear Creek children have an enjoyable Christmas.

At the Santa Shop, parents secretly shop for free gifts for their children, while the children enjoy fun activities and a visit with Santa. In 2017, over 230 children had a far better Christmas thanks to the Santa Shop.

The Santa Shop, however, doesn’t just happen; it requires cash and work. You can help by donating and/or volunteering.

Send a tax-deductible donation payable to the Clear Creek Santa Shop to the Clear Creek Santa Shop, c/o the Clear Creek County Advocates, P.O. Box 21, Georgetown, CO 80444.

Volunteers are needed on Monday and Tuesday, December 10th and 11th, at 9:00 at the Elks Lodge to unload and inventory toys. At 1:00 on Tuesday, the tree will be decorated. Work continues on Wednesday and Thursday until…

The Santa Shop opens on Friday and Saturday, December 14th and 15th, at 9:00.

For questions or to volunteer, call Joni Albers (303.679.2426) or Diane Lee (303.679.2451) or email Diane at dlee@clearcreekshriff.us.

You’ll not only feel better, you’ll avoid opening that can of worms. Tis the season.

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