Let the spirit of giving continue year-roundPublished 10:24am Friday, February 22, 2013
Column: Notes from Home, by Katie Mullaly
Is it just me, or are the months of January and February filled with negativity and selfishness? It’s bold of me to say that, yes, but it really makes me wonder.
As an area coordinator for Waldorf College, my Facebook feed is filled with broken New Year’s resolutions, busted up relationships and tons of sick, sympathy-filled statuses, this may or may not include me, by the way. I’ve also noticed a lot of selfishness, and not the good kind that I spoke about in last week’s article, but the corrupt, heartless kind.
“I didn’t get the iPhone 5 I wanted, I hate my life,” “I can’t believe the new shoes my grandma gave me are too small,” et cetera. It begs to ask the question: Why does the spirit of giving only seem to apply to the holiday season?
More often than not, Christmas time is called “the season of giving,” and yet it is early spring time that really seems to have a lot more to give; giving more in a larger sense, a sense of self-sacrifice and service to others. There’s Valentine’s Day, the holiday that is based on giving an exuberant amount of love, kisses and quality time to your loved ones. Then there’s Easter where Jesus gave his life for us, the season of sacrifice and fasting, no big deal.
There’s Arbor Day, when you plant a tree to give back to the environment, what we’ve so vehemently given up at points in our history. There’s also MLK Day where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave us a platform and perspective to be able to band together and stand as one, uniting us. President Barack Obama has had a hand in this day, mentioning in his inaugural speech the initiative to give back to our communities as a day of service on MLK Day.
It seems that the Christmas season, though it has great meaning to Christians, has had its infusion of commercialism. We’re expected to give during that season, we’re expected to give back and then once we have done our civil duty as a Christmas do-gooder, we go back to our grinchy ways. What have you done to impact your community lately? How many of us can say we’ve done something to give back to our community in this new season of giving? Volunteer opportunities across the nation are at an increase around this season. Once people have completed their volunteering during Christmas, they feel they’ve done their good deeds for the year.
Let me tell you, it’s so easy to give a little bit during every season.
I’ve recently picked up snail mail as a hobby! I’ve been sending out letters to old friends and family members that I haven’t been able to see for a while. It’s fun to receive something in the mail; it’s even nicer to know someone is thinking about you enough to spend postage on you!
It’s a random act of kindness that gives the best kind of reward and satisfaction. Other volunteer opportunities that are abundant around this time are: food shelf or soup kitchen volunteer work, child or adult care center volunteering, volunteering for the Salvation Army or the Red Cross of America: all of these opportunities are easy to commit to and take up mere hours in a full week.
You know the elation you feel during Christmas after doing a good deed for someone, right? That good feeling that lasts in your heart all day, maybe all week, just helps you float through the season. Why does that have to end in December? Why is it we feel it’s necessary to give back to our communities only when we’re expected to do so? Our communities need our help year-round. Yes, we pay our taxes and have given our dues, but that, in my mind, is not what humanity is about.
Humanity is a sense of responsibility to each other; that we are all here together sharing space, sharing lives and to think that our lives are unable to impact each other’s is a skewed perspective. I’m just so fascinated in how easy it is for us to turn our heads to the needs of our own communities and still, in the same day, in the same minute, complain and be unhappy with our current situations.
It’s so easy to give a little time, or even a little bit of extra food or old clothing. There is a need out there. Money is short for many. Time is even shorter for some. We can change our attitude by giving just a little bit more.
Katie Mullaly is a residence coordinator at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa. David Behling returns next week.