My sister called me the other night to ask what I and the three men in my life wanted for Christmas. It’s really so bizarre, isn’t it? To yell down the stairs, “What do you want for Christmas?” and when there is an “I don’t know;” or “I don’t need anything,” push for them to come up with something?
Even my one son who always has a list, this year, said he didn’t need a thing. Is this a sign of spiritual growth on our behalf or a sign of a life too saturated with stuff?
My sister had hoped to take advantage of Cyber Monday, but we failed her with our inability to come up with suggestions in time.
And now, as I write this, it’s Giving Tuesday. I seemed to have missed this new day initiated a few years ago by the 92Y in NYC to counterbalance the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday by inviting people to give outside their circle of family and friends to charitable causes.
I wonder what my sister would have done if one of her nephews had said, “Tell Aunt Kathy to donate money to my school?” What if I had asked her to make a donation to LCS or to St. Stephen’s or contribute to the animals we, as a family, buy each year for someone across the world in memory of our other son? Maybe she could give to the Lutheran Seminary or Family Promise?
There is, after all, a difference between saying, “I don’t need anything,” and inviting someone to think about those who do need – an education, an income, meaningful work, a home, some food.
And of course, there is a difference between living this way on Giving Tuesday or during the Christmas season and living this way the rest of the year. But habits start with a first act as journeys start with a first step.
Maybe I’ll ask Aunt Kathy to give differently this year.