So, I have to admit: I am NOT in the holiday spirit. At all.
As I've gotten older, it's taken me longer and longer to get into the groove, but this year feels different. I've gained a husband, but I've lost a cousin and friend. We'll see how things go when the first snow falls here in Toronto, but I'm hoping I can fend off the Scrooge-ness.
A few ways I'm going to perk myself up is to do something for others. This year, I have a major inclination to do something for people who don't even know me, so I've been researching some various charities that I trust:
Do you have $25 to spare? If so, why not give a loan to a small business owner somewhere in the world? Hit up Kiva's site to search people around the globe who are trying to better themselves and their families with small businesses. Your $25 will go to the business owner of your choice - you can track their progress and see what your money has done to help them. Coolest thing about Kiva? These are not "donations" - they are true loans. You will receive your $25 back, and have the option of loaning to another business owner, donating to Kiva, or getting reimbursed through PayPal. I'll be letting you guys know a bit more about the business owner I plan to help once I have all the details sorted out - but Kiva is an amazing global initiative!
I get it - blood makes a lot of people queasy. But think of how queasy you'd really be if you were in need of a blood transfusion? I've donated blood in the past, but really fell off with the idea. However, I was reminded of the need while my cousin was fighting leukemia. He would often get blood transfusions, and I couldn't help but feel such gratitude towards the strangers who gave of themselves to help him. I want to do the same for someone else, so I will be calling 1-888-2-DONATE to find my nearest clinic.
Toy Drives are organized all the time by churches, malls, and community groups, but a personal toy drive feels so much better! Back in university (go Western!), I organized a toy drive through the Black Student's Organization, and we decided to give the toys that were donated to the Children's Hospital at the London Health Sciences Centre - Victoria Campus in London, Ontario. For one reason or another, we missed the day when we were to go to the hospital and drop the toys off. I had a bag full of stuffed animals, books, and games in the back of my Mom's car, so on Christmas Eve she dropped me off at the Children's Hospital ER, and I handed out toys to the kids who were spending their evenings there. I honestly can't describe the feeling I had when kids' eyes would light up, their tears would cease for a moment, and their frazzled parents would thank me so sincerely. It may be too late now to organize something big, but I'll hopefully be able to play Skinny Black Female Santa Claus again this year.
There you have it - a few ways to get involved in something outside of yourself and bless someone else during the holidays (and beyond).
What do you think of these ideas? Do you have any charitable traditions that you do every year? Are you in the holiday spirit, or are you feeling a bit Grinchy like me?