The Gift Of Giving


I just took a long walk the other day in Flalaland. It was a balmy south Florida day. That will not endear me with all you who are freezing your butts off somewhere but tis the season to be jolly. 

I was thinking about the 70 some odd Christmases I can remember. A lot of different places. A lot of wonderful times. The ones is Colorado were particularly memorable. In the mountains there was always snow and in those days no one frowned upon your yule log in the fireplace. 

We used to go to Mass in the chapel at Beaver Creek and I was the lector and plate passer rolled into one. I would get bugged and curse under my breath when the grand dames dripping in mink would put a couple of bucks in the basket. Coincidentally I would think of what their room cost or even better the Xmas dinner for  8 at one of the very expensive emporiums of culinary excellence. Mea maxima culpa. 

Now I am not a got rocks but I try to help out our local charities and church. I want to give back. Is that trite or heartfelt? Is that a gift or the result of Irish Catholic guilt? Good question. Works the same for Jews and Italians.

I know giving is a very personal thing. But I thought about all the different ways one can give. Is there not at least a piece of caritas in every one of us? The most obvious is cash, credit card or check.Maybe even bitcoin if it is worth anything.  I used to give to a lot of national things but felt I had no idea where it was going. I decided to stay local with church, schools and of course hospice. 

Now when you give unless it is in person it is somewhat abstract. You stuff the ever present prepaid envelope and voila! you are the patron of something. You feel good but it is not always euphoric. You hope for some sort of acknowledgment, not necessarily with huzzahs and genuflections but at least a word of thanks. We are all human.

At St Patrick’s church in Vail we used to collect money in the month of March for needy souls. One day a woman came into the sacristy(where they suit up) after mass and gave my buddy Fr.Tom a check. It was nice but not off the charts. The lady left and when Tom was about to leave he noticed there was another check underneath. It was for several hundred thousand dollars! Talk about an anonymous donor!

I sometimes wonder if giving time is harder than writing a check. I do my hospice gig every Monday morning from 8-12. After you do it long enough they begin to rely on you. You are part of the team. That is good and can be bad on a morning when you really don’t feel like getting out of bed. Sorry TTG, you can’t mail it in !

People tell me how wonderful it is what I do and I really feel uncomfortable about that.  I always manage to meet someone who does a lot more both in time and effort. I am not anything special and neither are you. We all live on this  planet and it is not only nice to reach out, but I think the only way we are going to make sense of all this mess. 

Aha! There is another way we can give. A smile. A gesture. A hug. These days be careful on that last one. Look the counter person, check-out  cashier or the loading dock employee, right in the eye and say please and thank you. Do you have any idea how it makes that person feel? And very selfishly you won’t believe how good it feels when you get that smile of gratitude back. 

Why is it so difficult for some? One of my buddies said I could talk to a tree. Point taken. Another calls me Smiley because I always seem to have an ever present grin. One of my fellow inmates here has never smiled in the going on six years of our stay. I thought it was just me but others have certified my observations as true. I just can’t do that. 

We will keep it simple. You can give your money, your time or just a little bit of you. Put your attitude away, lower your defenses and just greet the world with an open gesture. Don’t think of how am I going to get screwed but what can I add to another human being’s life?

Is this all BS and Kumbaya? I think not. We are growing further and further from each other. We are all caught up in our own lives. But Ted it has been a bad year in the market. There is no loose change anywhere? But Ted I am a very busy person. There is no time in your life for watching football, working out or hitting golf balls? But Ted I am an intense person and besides half of those people don’t really need it. Don’t worry, I know all the off ramps. 

Beware! Once you get into it, it becomes contagious. Can you imagine how great it would be if we reached out in the most simple way to just one stranger a day? Tell him or her to do the same. Is it crazy? Of course it is but come on in, the water is fine. The gift of giving YOU is the greatest gift of all. 

As always 

Ted The Great.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all you crazy people who read Ted’s Head. In a way it is my gift to you. 


Americans gave $471.44 billion to charities in 2020

Matures:  born before 1946, 78% (that’s 23.5 million people) of this generation gave to charities.  The most generous of the five generations, they gave, on average, $1,235 per person to 6.3 charities

Boomers:  born between 1947 and 1964, remain the largest of the five generations.  Three quarters (75%, or 55.3 million people) of this generation donated an average of $1,061 last year

Generation X:  the generation that has been overshadowed by Boomers and Millennials, was born between 1965 and 1980.  Over half (55%, or 35.8 million people) of this generation gave an average of $921 

Millennials:  in case you don’t know this, this generation was born between 1981 and 1995.  Just over half of Millennials (51%, or 34.1 donors) gave an average of $591 a year

Generation Z:  born from 1996 and after, this generation has just begun to enter the workforce and has already started giving.  Forty-four percent of them (representing 9.3 million people) gave an average of $341 

Corporations account for 5% of charitable giving

25% of Americans volunteer

Women are more likely than men.

11% of volunteer organizations ceased to exist because of COVID

Volunteer efforts are valued at $200 billion per annum 

Changing Times

Epiphanies, upheaval, chaos, revolution, sacred traditions under fire ….our world both near and far is reacting normally or erratically depending on your point of view. Without getting particular I have been studying just the process these last few weeks. Some can’t wait for it and others abhor it. Regardless, change is a fact of life. 

Here in Flalaland, as we all grow older our ideas become more entrenched. We have broken in the shoes of life and they feel pretty comfy. We embrace the good old days in song, dress and behavior. We reveled the other night that we never wore helmets biking, stood on the arm rest while driving with our parents and walked just about everywhere without fear of a pervert or stray bullet. All wonderful.

But change is evident everywhere. We are able to fly anywhere. Our world population has grown from 3.7 billion to over 8 billion in 50 years. Companies and countries have come and gone. In America we have gone from cute Cape Cods to mega mansions. The information age is forty years old and we have seen the unimaginable. When you put a bunch of smart entrepreneurial people together you see a new version in every walk of life. 

The New World is gut wrenching for some more than others. Why? It is more likely than not hard wired into us. Our bodies and brains have worked out a system to survive. It is called homeostasis that keeps everything in balance. Anything alien is considered a threat. We also are tribal whether it be family or nationality. We are wary of new arrivals and how they might alter our pecking order.  What does it do to our self esteem ? Crazy? I am not sure it is. 

There is a fascinating concept of inertia. Let’s say you smoke, drink or are overweight. You have become very used to living that

way. You know it probably is not good for you but you keep at it. To do something different is going to take a lot of work. You might even say you like your life. Nobody is going to tell me what to do. It has worked for me for a long long time. I am doing fine. Are you?

Many of us feel we are not doing fine. Self help books have tripled in numbers annually for the last 5 years. So we have the enigma of despising change and yet embracing it a the same time. We want to be open and welcoming but it scares the crap out of us. Hmmm.

I wonder about myself. Here in Flalaland we have been treated to new arrivals on pretty much a non stop basis for the last couple of years. Our club is collegial and really not that stuffy. It has an air of gentility as contrary to snobbishness. People are decent types and not gaudy. But the new folk? 

There is a silly thing called a dress code. Collared shirts tucked in and no hats in the clubhouse for the guys. No jeans in dining rooms and flip flops are frowned upon. Some of you might take this as typical of old fart fuddy duddies. I look at it as a tradition of sorts. You say what is wrong with a tee shirt or dress shirts hanging out? You want to bring us into the 21st century. I am trying real hard but it ain’t easy. 

I only bring this all up to demonstrate the theory. First is we are tribal. Those interlopers might ruin the place. The second is wondering if I and others are being unreasonable. Geez Louise I have worn the same type of clothes for a long time. Am I suffering from inertia or do I have a just argument? Dunno.

You could take the same overlay of thought as it relates to politics, religion, feminism, chauvinism, immigration, and even family life. I have changed my stripes on so many things over my lifetime I wonder if I am a revolutionary or just someone who can’t make up his mind? When I pose an alternate solution people recoil. And here is where it gets good. 

If I come to you with a new idea or method aren’t I really telling you that you are wrong? This totally new way of doings things says for all these years you have been at fault. I am threatening your authenticity or competency. The only way you can comply is by changing or eating crow. Yikes, that sounds heavy duty. Can a stupid thing called compromise heal that wound of defeat?

My argument about term limits is simple. If you have been in the same spot in government for 30-50 years is it possible to have an original thought? When we construct the bastions of partisanship doesn’t it become solely a fight of egos rather than ideology. The old story of the work of Congress should get done in the center doesn’t work today. Our country is and has changed drastically in so many ways. Probably a lot more for the better than the worse but no one will admit that. Have we adapted or dare I use the word “change” one more time?

Look at the things we have to fix. Immigration and education to name two. On face value both are a mess. It would require sea changes to solve either one. Inertia? You bet. Threats to reputations, expertise, and status? Ha! Is it all so simple or irretrievably complex?

Disney just replaced their CEO with a retread who had actually recommended him in the first place. Meta and Zuckerberg are incredibly off message. Amazon overbuilt. Boeing is almost FUBAR. 

The stockholders are demanding change. Whether it is a corporation or a country or even a church aren’t we all owners of a sort. Changing Times? You bet. Are we keeping up? You tell me.


As always

Ted The Great.


Change done right gives people hope. It creates opportunity. Most of all there is a growth in us that is hard to imagine. It’s the best drug of all.

Change means coming out of your cocoon. It is scary. First steps are the hardest. Vulnerability How did you or do you feel about the following?

1.       Starting a new fantastic job

2.       Getting married

3.       Buying a house/relocating

4.       Becoming a parent

Stressful but cool!  The fine line between scary and exciting is palpable.

The starting point of change is admitting or defining the problem. A gradual, well structured plan will win out over the sledge hammer approach every time.