We’ve talked a lot on Facebook about how to spend less and simplify with those in our own families and social circles. Something that we haven’t talked about too much is when we branch out of our families and start giving to people in need.
My family has been dividing our Christmas budget giving equal parts to our family, overseas giving, and local giving. When I hear about opportunities to give locally, many of the opportunities are presented along the lines of “these kids won’t have a Christmas” because their parents can’t afford to put toys under the tree. So, guys like Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans choose 12 children in need and spend a total of $19,000 on toys for them.* And this is held up by our society as a worthy example of giving.
But is this really what we want to say Christmas is? Is waking up on December 25th with nothing under the tree somehow less of a celebration of restored relationships than having more toys than 100 children could ever play with?
A step up from looking at Christmas as a time to focus on gifts is to provide food and clothing to the needy. This is definitely something I’m on board with. And in America, our poor are fairly well-cared for. Sure, we can always do more. But let’s remember that our standards here in America for what we need are incredibly high and focus mainly on material things. In the scope of the world, we don’t even measure as a country with food insecurity.
Perhaps it’s time to move up the scale of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and begin to address the needs for safety, relationships, and esteem. This proves a more difficult feat. It is not as simple as purchasing some extra groceries when you make your own weekly shopping trip, or dropping off some clothes and letting someone else figure out how to distribute them. It doesn’t always take money; it takes an investment of time. It takes learning and understanding. It takes a willingness to give in a very personal way often without receiving anything in return. It takes patience, generosity, and love.
When we work in this way, turns out that we can spend less and give more.
We would love to hear your stories about caring for others in a relational way.
*To be fair to Mr. Johnson, he does have a foundation that pursues the betterment of children raised in single-parent homes in Houston and Miami. I imagine that it has a relational element to it. I just find myself wondering why his $19K shopping spree on toys is big news, but the daily grind of his foundation is not.