Comforting Words: A Different Kind of Giving

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Different Kind of Giving

I often do not have a clue what the topic of my next post will be. There is no list of ideas that I can just go to and retrieve a story. Life is the source of my posts – that of others, friends or strangers or my own.

With Christmas fast approaching, however, I thought for sure there would be a post wishing all my friends a happy holiday. The advertisements on the television and radio have been ramped up and now in any commercial break almost all the ads have a Christmas focus.

Given the much talked about recession and even potential of a depression in the economies of the world, Robert and I have more or less made the decision to limit our spending for the season. So the ads, while wonderful, have not found a receptive audience in my household of two (humans), except for one.

In the radio version of the ad a woman, later identified as a mother, can be heard giving instructions how to make the perfect bed out of the back seats of a SUV of some type. In the television version, a mother is seen putting her daughter to bed with a bedtime story and a kiss, promising her that when morning comes she will be ready for anything. She reaches up and turns off the light, then the camera zooms out and you see that they are in an SUV parked on a dark road.

Both mothers and their children are homeless this Christmas. By the images and the diction they are clearly not drug or some other type of addicts or floozies. You cannot tell whether they are married or living common-law with a man or a woman. However, it is clear that these are middle class women who had to choose between a home and abuse.

Probably these ads resonate with me because I have been there a couple times in my own journey and not so long ago. I think, however, they caused me to pause because I know for sure that this Christmas too many women will be making that choice.

If the ‘experts’ are correct and this recession sets in the people who will suffer the most will be women and children. This has always been the sad reality of the world we live in where the most vulnerable to homelessness and/or abuse are children, seniors and women – quite possibly in that order. In same-gender relationships, it is the partner who, as a friend of mine states, “Speaks the loudest and wield the biggest economic stick,” that keeps the house.

At our engagement party in September, Robert and I asked our many friends who celebrated with us not to give us any more gifts. Almost everyone in attendance had brought us something – in addition to the blessing of their presence. This was quite unexpected and we requested that no further gifting be done – at least not to us.

We asked our friends and well-wishers to make donations in our honour to charity organizations, specifically to women’s shelters. This is what I would also implore you to do this Christmas - give a different kind of gift.

Write a cheque or pack a box with some non-perishable food items or clothing – it does not have to be a large one – and take it to the local shelter providing a room for women, children, seniors, gays and lesbians who might have to make the choice between a home and abuse this Christmas.

Is that not what Christmas is about – a person being born in a manger as there was no room in the inn for his parents who were running away from a tyrant?

Whether you believe in the Christian story or not, did the story of this homeless child not change or impact many lives for over 2,000 years?

Think about it and write the cheque early to ensure that the next homeless child, woman, senior, gay or straight, has a room for at least a night. You never know whose life this person might change and it might not take 2,000 years.



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