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.
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