Thanksgiving is a holiday meant for all to give thanks for all that they have.
Christmas and Hanukkah are holidays where gifts are given to family, friends, neighbors and even co-workers.
As I have lost all of my immediate family, as well as beloved dogs and cats, over the years the holiday season has taken on new meaning – or no meaning – to me. Certainly, as a vegetarian, the feasts with the carcass of a dead animal as the centerpiece is repulsive. In the past few years I have chosen to enjoy my time off from work in unconventional ways. Tomorrow, Christmas Day, I plan to see The Hobbit. With any luck the theater will be nearly empty.
As far as gifts are concerned, most everyone I know has followed my request for NOTHING PLEASE. I need to divest myself of enough stuff to fill a large store. When that will happen is anyone’s guess. The last thing I need is MORE STUFF. To practice what I’ve been preaching, both last year and this year, instead of buying gifts for my employees I have donated to a non-human animal charity of my choice. Both are grassroots, local nonprofits.
Last year I made a monetary contribution to the building fund for the Spay N Save's low cost spay/neuter clinic. They opened their clinic earlier this year to one and all. To find out more about Spay N Save, check out this link: http://www.spaynsave.org/
This year, thanks to the recommendation of a friend, I chose the kennel at Harbor House. Earlier this month Harbor House, a shelter for women who are battered by their partners, opened their kennel for the companion animals of the women who are staying at the shelter. Most shelters for women who are battered do not permit them to bring their cats and/or dogs with them. Due to that fact, many women remain in abusive relationships to protect the animals they love.
This link for Harbor House (http://www.harborhousefl.com/2012/08/3rd-annual-paws-for-peace-walk/) provides a complete description of why these caring people chose to open a kennel that provides a safe haven for these animals. For many of us, myself included, our companion animals are precious, priceless, irreplaceable members of our families.
While I realize that it is too late for anyone reading this post to choose to make a donation to a charity this year, I want to encourage each of you to consider doing this for future “special” occasions where you would normally purchase a gift. Instead of continuing to fall prey to the crass consumerism that abounds, help out a good cause. Your money will help and you may start a tradition within your circle of family and friends. You will, most certainly, help raise awareness of the causes you support. Most of us, especially in the developed world, have enough stuff to last several lifetimes. No gift is too small for those in need.
During this enduring recession, it has been the small, grassroots and local nonprofits that have suffered the most. The majority of these groups do not have a stockpile of money to help them through the tough times. Local cat and dog rescue groups often operate in the red because of mounting veterinarian bills to save the lives of the sick, injured or abused animals they take into their care. I encourage each of you to look around your community and find good nonprofits that need some help. If you can’t give items they need or make a monetary gift, consider volunteering your time. Most need caring, reliable volunteers for everyday tasks throughout the year, not just during the holiday season.
The giant nonprofits that you’ve heard of or whose ads you often see of television generally have endowments or large bank accounts. Don’t believe me? Check out Guidestar to see the latest IRS 990s of some of the nonprofits you have heard about. The larger the group, the larger the staff, the larger the expenses that don’t go directly to their cause. United Way, for example, takes at least 15% of your donation simply for managing the fundraising. When you get a phone call to raise funds for your local police or fire department, that call is made by a fundraising firm. That firm may keep 40% or more of each donation they collect. You would be better off taking some home baked cookies to your local fire station or even donating some money if the local firefighters are volunteers.
This is just my 2 cents. Take it for whatever it’s worth to you.
WISHING EACH OF YOU A JOYOUS AND SAFE