Thursday, November 13, 2014

Holy Day Giving

Yesterday, when I had a little down time at Faith in Action, I went back to our small food pantry and unpacked a recent donation. Now, I'm not calling this donor out, because I understand that s/he was simply clearing out a deceased relative's pantry, but there was some gnarly stuff in those bags. A can of tomatoes with mold on the label. Mayonnaise two years past its expiration date. And, saving the best for last, a jar of marshmallow creme that had separated into two layers, one white and spongelike, the other dark yellow and undeniably solid, with a "use by" date of March 13, 2005.

Meanwhile, over at, it was Holiday Hearts match day. Glennon Doyle, the force behind Momastery, and her group called Together Rising, do charitable stuff all year long, but Holiday Hearts is the biggest. People email requests for Christmas help, none costing more than $100, those requests are vetted, and then, yesterday, they were put up online. Other people then offer to personally fulfill the requests. I kept trying to match myself with a Holiday Hearts request yesterday, but I couldn't do it--every time I tried to post a comment, the listing would change to TAKEN, meaning someone else had got there first.

Momastery put up over 400 requests, and they were all matched in less than 4 hours.

I imagine most of you reading this are going to get lots of holiday giving requests this year. I know for me the flood has already started. Now that crowdfunding is a thing, I've even been getting emails from specific students at my and my husband's alma maters: a Notre Dame student wants to take a medical mission trip, and a Smith student wants to attend a writing conference. Both of these seem more legit than the recent appeal from a 12-year-old who wanted a pony. (You know what? When I was 12, I wanted a pony, too. But I didn't ask the neighbors to buy me one.) Some of you reading this are also needing help. What I hope is that all of us can remember the origin of the word holiday: Holy Day.

This year is a good one for making our giving or getting Holy. For giving with abundance and gratitude, and receiving with abundance and gratitude, the way the Holiday Hearts people seem to have done. (The stories are still up. You can go over to Momastery and read them. Bring Kleenex for the tears you'll shed.) Once upon a time, when we as a family were trying to help some people and an annoying relative kept referring to those people as "the poor," my son, then 13, turned and said, "Please quit calling them the poor. We really don't know whether or not they are poor. All we know is that they're having some trouble, and they need help."

If you're having some trouble this year, accept help. If you're doing better, give help. Be holy and whole, and whatever you do, don't foist your 10-year-old marshmallows on somebody else.