This is not only at stores. My daughters' elementary schools are collecting money for teacher presents ("Usually parents give $20 but don't feel bad if you can't give that much." Really? I shouldn't feel bad?), asking us to bring a present for a present exchange in the classroom and encouraging us to give $5 for each person on my five year old's Christmas list (since when do five year olds do Christmas shopping?) so she can shop at the "Boutique" - yet another school fundraiser. The third this year. This does not include the book fair, the scholastic book drive, and pictures for each kid. And this does not include the preschool obligations for our three year old.
I counted four opportunities to give at work today. The mailbox at the end of the drive is now a source of anxiety - Maryland Food Bank, Leukemia & Lymphoma Association, NPR, the Police...It never ends. Not to mention the weekly donation we make at church...
Do I help to homeless or the hungry? Do I promote public radio or support the police? Do I fight lung cancer or Crohn's disease? How do I explain to my daughter, "No sweetie, we can't help a sick child today?"
The couple times I have sent checks, I am bombarded by so many further requests to donate money, it seems the money donated just served to pay for all the promotions for more donations! How much of all the giving goes to these causes? Do we know or care? Or do we give to let ourselves off the hook, so we can feel we did something much bigger? Are we so materialistic and consumerism-driven, and is it such a reflex to just spend, that even doing good is giving money?
"Do you want to help a young child and save 5%?" I bet many of you can recognize the last one. Think : red bulls eye...Since this was the fourth place I had been, my answer was an adamant "No!" "Really?" answered the cashier and gave me a look like - how could you a) not want to help a young child? and b) not want to save 5%??? Is being judgemental part of the job description here? Is that, too, part of the holiday season? I am already wondering to myself if I am going to burn in hell because of not financially supporting the rescue of some young child that might be trapped in a deep dark well for days with a broken leg, no food, and cold, probably has cancer, is homeless and orphaned! You do not need to help me feel bad!!!
How do we balance the curbing spending mentality with helping fellow mankind? I hope someone out there has an answer...and I hope it makes me feel better quick.