My friend, Silken recently posted a challenge asking bloggers to think outside of their computer screens in order to spread the good cheer this season. Take a moment if you can and stop at her original post to see her take on spreading the benefits of her extra blogging dollars.
Her post asked us to go out into the world and use some of the profits we make from paid posting and blogging on a charity of our choice this Christmas season... As I said in her comments, I don’t currently earn any monetary value from blogging because I stopped doing paid postings when I switched to this blog. But I would be happy to support charities through the Christmas season... I went on to list the things I am giving this holiday... the same causes I contribute to every holiday... hmmm... maybe I can do a little better.
Unfortunately, I’m at a bit of a disadvantage, as the things I currently support are really about as much as I can comfortably afford.... so I started thinking about this dilemma, which brought me around to thoughts of charity in general.
The first phrase that popped into my mind was, ‘Charity begins at home’. Sometimes, especially around the holidays, we hear so much about what’s needed in the community that we forget to look at what’s needed right in our backyard. It doesn’t have to be a great need. It doesn’t even have to be a monetary need. From my experience, bank account balance has very little to do with a person’s fortune and some of the ones with the highest balance actually have the poorest lives.
That brought me around to the story of St. Nicholas. Some of you might not know this one, it’s very popular with us Catholics and I tell my children a rather watered down version of the story every year around the Feast of St. Nicholas, which just past yesterday, December 6th. You may know it as the day Catholic kids put their shoes out for St. Nick to fill with candy and small treats – yes, we did that, too.
But the story of St. Nicholas is a bit more extensive. He was born to a wealthy family of the time and raised with a very devout faith. His parents died when he was young, leaving Nicholas a vast fortune, but the man wanted only to devote his life to God. He followed his path to the priesthood and eventually, sainthood (long after his death, of course) But during his life, St. Nicholas saw no need to use the material treasures he had inherited on his own wants; he had all that he needed serving God and the Church. Instead, he gave his money to those in need throughout his life.
But St. Nicholas didn’t just open a coin purse and toss money to the poor in open daylight. He didn’t bestow these gifts as awards or with great fanfare. Instead, he saw a need in people around him, those he heard were having hard times, and those he happened upon and watched their struggle. Especially small children, St. Nicholas had a special place in his heart for the young and wanted nothing more than to aid them in their life and relationship with God. So he gave of his time and resources, but in secret. He never wanted to be thanked or even known for the generosity he bestowed on those around him because he wanted the recipients to give thanks to God. His good deeds were a prayer and he didn’t want thanks for that – he wanted instead to impact those around him with the knowledge that God will take care of all things, whether it’s through the hands of one of his servants or through divine intervention.
So, my extra something this month will be to play secret Santa for those around me, but never to let them know it was me. It may not be monetary help; it might just be a small thing, like brushing the snow off of their car or leaving some small thing to make them smile. Silken asked for everyone to have completed their extra charity by December 31st and to post what they’d done, without telling amounts or anything, but as a promotion to the charity of your choice. I’d love to see posts of that nature going up around the internet this December... I’d love to see posts of that nature going up the whole year round.
I’m not naming people to complete this challenge, though I’d love to hear if you did. And I don’t know if I’ll be posting an update on this one, myself, because I think it might be fun just to do some good things and keep them to myself... There was a Friends episode once where Joey and Phoebe argued over charity. Joey insisted that you couldn’t do anything good for someone else without receiving something in return... I tend to agree with him.
Good luck and happy gifting, whether it’s time, talent, prayer, or pocket change. Even a small thing can have a huge impact on someone’s day.