Timely Advice from “Dear Geezer”
It’s that time of the year again when I get stuck trying to buy appropriate gifts for all my loved ones – who consist of my adult children and a mix of young and older grandchildren. There is also a stray nephew and my deceased mother’s youngest sister added to this pile as well.
As I have steadily moved up into the “post 80 pre-senile” classification, I find myself increasingly annoyed by the idea that I am supposed to give the standard meaningless and even unappreciated gifts at this time of the year. My adult children are all well off and they need more stuff from Nordstrom’s like an Eskimo needs more ice. My older grandchildren visit Best Buy every day and already have every “next best thing.” And frankly, all these gadgets do is make even the slightest amount of verbal or even eye contact with them next to impossible. The only set of giftees that get excited by Christmas gifts are the wee ones and they can be bought off with a box of Legos.
I am not miserly and that I actually enjoy spreading my abundance around, but I am not wanting to play the thoughtless, self-loathing chump again. I want my gift s to go beyond meeting the wants of already over-supplied family members. I want my money to go to folks who really could use it. How do I pull this off? Any ideas for me?
Yours truly, Lorenzo Smedley
What you have here, Lorenzo, is a fantastic opportunity to not only help people in need with your money gifts, but also to plant some wonderful seeds of compassion and generosity in your family’s garden. Here’s how you can make all this happen:
Contact your family members individually and tell them of your desire to make your giving count this year (and all the years to follow). This call can give them an opportunity to let you know if they really could use some help rather getting another unwanted sweater or tie. If they signal that they are OK, then ask if they have some special place or people that they might like to help. You can then suggest that you could make a donation to this group on their behalf in place of the money you usually spend on them. It might get them thinking along he same lines as yours.
Here is a story on how this worked in the family of old friend of mine, Guy Lumbago: about fifteen years ago Guy’s son Juan and his wife Lupita brought baby boy Hector into this world, a joyous occasion for the most part but also somewhat upsetting as the little guy was born with a cleft lip and palate. Juan and Lupita were soon heartened to learn that there was excellent medical personnel available just a few miles away, doctors expertly trained to repair deformities such as Hector’s. Today, as a result of the doctors’ ongoing care, Hector is a wholesome and handsome young man with a great future.
Arising from this very direct and touching experience, Guy learned that there were thousands of children all over the world with similar birth defects. These youngsters all face harsh lives from being rejected by their communities – in addition to the severe difficulties they have in eating, breathing, and speaking. Their impoverished, heartbroken parents suffer with them. Guy learned that there were a couple of charitable organizations that raised money to send teams of specialized surgeons to all parts of the world to repair the devastating deformities of children so afflicted, restoring to them the opportunity of a happy childhood.
What greater joy could Guy’s money create than to be part of an effort to redeem and repair the tortured lives of children so beset with such repairable deformities! Guy chose one organization, Operation Smile, to donate to and has done so for years and in increasing amounts. Other members Guy’s family have chosen this path as well.
So, Lorenzo, my friend, you can be the Guy in your family this year.