Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

24 December, 2014

WE SHOULD GIVE FOR THE SAKE OF GIVING

CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS, MY FRIENDS!
Because 'tis the season, I have been thinking (and writing) a lot lately about giving.

I have always considered myself to be a "giver", not necessarily in a monetary sense because my financial resources have often been limited.  I have compensated for a shortfall of disposable income by donating my time, energy and humble talents to worthwhile, charitable causes and I consider that to be a valid and much needed form of giving in today's society.

Regretfully, because of present conditions in my life, my "giving" has fallen off, or at least I am having to be increasingly selective in what I give and how I give it.  That admission does not make me happy, but it is nonetheless a fact of life.

Giving, in whatever form, is the Christian way...It is also the Canadian way.  It is ingrained in most of us.  For that reason, I found myself in complete agreement with Saadlyhah Baksh's letter to the editor in today's Toronto Star.  It was his contention that we should give for the sake of giving, regardless of whether or not we get recognition.  "The purest form of giving is to do it when no one is looking, so you can turn off your (camera) flash and remove the lens that is blinding you from what real generosity is."

Saadlyhah was, of course, referring to the controversial "Pass the Pizza Movement" which is using social media to post photos of people donating pizza to homeless individuals with the hash tag #passthepizza.  The idea of giving to the homeless is wonderful, but fleeting social media campaigns that glamourize the giver while dehumanizing the less fortunate is not the most effective way of instilling long-term positive changes on the social issue.

Trends like Pass the Pizza have their 15 minutes of fame and then something new and more exciting comes along.  Actually, Pass the Pizza is the new ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral on Facebook a month or so ago. 

In today's society, I am fully convinced that people lose the message behind such campaigns and just join in because they have been challenged by a friend or relative and it is a popular thing to do.  Something that was meant to be a genuine act of kindness resultantly got lost in the reward of "likes", "favourites" and "retweets".  I really wonder how many actually followed through and forwarded their pledged donation to the ALS Foundation after being photographed as they were doused with a bucket of mind-chilling ice water?  I commend those whose hearts were in the right place...It was a fun thing to do and the videos were equally fun to watch.

Genuine pride and satisfaction comes from truly giving from the heart.  We should not have to be challenged to give, however, nor should we stand in front of a camera lens to do it. 

If you have the price of a pizza to spare this season and you are moved by the kindness of your heart, why not drop that sum into a Salvation Army kettle or donate it to a local food bank where you know it will be put to good immediate use feeding the hungry, needy -- and homeless? 

21 December, 2014

NO MATTER HOW YOU CELEBRATE IT, CHRISTMAS IS A TIME OF GIVING

Christmas has become such an all-embracing, virtually secular event in western culture that people find it difficult to avoid, irrespective of religious upbringing.  The business sector, retailers in particular, have capitalized on the commercial potential of the festive holiday.

The secular version of Christmas features the evergreen tree (real or artificial) and outdoor lighting, winter holiday pageants at school, the arrival of Santa Claus, frantic shopping for gifts, opening presents...and turkey with all the trimmings. 

The birth of Jesus, the Christian Messiah.
The original sacred version and the basis for Christendom, reflects on the religious aspects of the occasion and features traditional carols, midnight candlelit church services and Sunday School presentations of the crèche scene depicting the birth of the Messiah in the person of a baby who would become Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Much has been made of the inherent conflict between these two traditions. Around the world, at this time of year, both Santa and Jesus can claim their multitude of followers.

Maclean`s magazine, assuming there exists some cosmic battle for the minds and hearts of people, recently -- and solemnly -- proclaimed Santa to be the winner. Do Santa and Jesus have to be mutually exclusive? I believe there is enough overlap to enable us to partake of both traditions.

The common theme which underlies each story is the centrality of “giving.” Santa brings gifts to the children and as family or friends we in turn exchange gifts with one another.

1881 illustration by Thomas Nast
who, along with Clement Clarke
Moore's poem "A Visit from
St. Nicholas", helped create the
 modern image of Santa Claus.

In Orthodox Christianity, God loved the world so much that he gave the gift of Jesus. In turn, Jesus taught his followers that loving God and one another is the greatest commandment of all. His definition of loving is to offer the gift of ourselves to one another -- our time, our care, our support -- as opportunities arise to do so.

It is true that we can give without loving. Sometimes we give out of guilt, habit or appeasement. In contrast, we can never truly love without giving. At Christmas, the best gifts are those carefully selected and given as a token or symbol of that love or caring.

For most of us, the two traditions merge together on Christmas Eve. Finally, all the preparations for the biggest celebration of the year are in place. Now, secular or sacred, we can truly relax. A sense of wonder, hope, joy and peace slowly settles in. We might even feel an urge to lift our voices in agreement with a familiar Yuletide refrain...

Silent night, Holy night ... All is calm, all is bright.