For the past six weeks, I have been coordinating our agency's holiday projects — Toys for Tots, adopt a family, the holiday party, etc. It has been exhausting and has consumed nearly every moment of my attention. I've stood in ankle deep snow for nearly an hour waiting while Marines load a giant box truck I had to navigate back through said snow. I've stood in line at Target more times than I can count to purchase tape, wrapping paper and other accessories. I've stood taking people's information to provide them with a few toys to help stretch their holidays. I've stood amidst 57 volunteers packed into a tiny donated space sorting toys and folding socks for children. And I've sat bent over a computer checking our toy donations against the recall list.
In many ways, this has been a great project. Hundreds of people volunteered to help us sort and wrap and distribute. Many others donated and adopted and shopped for families they've never met. Someone showed up with a $700 donation out of the blue. Most people were appreciative and those who weren't I'm sure had their reasons to be disappointed — Toys for Tots ain't what it used to be as donations are down. It is okay with me when people express disappointment. I refuse to slip into that “be grateful little poor person” mentality of giving. (That being said, I sure had my moments …)
In fact, that is what has struck me the most this holiday season — how many of us have the moral of “A Christmas Carol” backwards. People call asking to help the Tiny Tims of the world, but Tiny Tim wasn't transformed in this story — except for the whole he probably wouldn't die thing. It was Scrooge's heart that changed as his awareness grew of how he could make a difference in the lives of so many people. The satisfaction of his generosity wasn't mere charity, it was connecting with Tiny Tim and reconnecting with his nephew and his loved ones.
That's what I wanted to experience this holiday — helping our donors understand the lives of the people they help and allowing their generosity to build a connection. I think it worked in a few cases.
Don't get me wrong — the generosity was tremendous. But I'm already having post-holiday letdown. And that sucks. It just feels rote at this point.