Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Fortunate Life

Ian and I have been watching football on Sundays. Actually, just one game every Sunday. We cuddle on the couch and watch the Vikings lose spectacularly. And sometimes we bake bread and eat it with homemade hummus. And Ian throws a fit because my blanket is touching him and why do I need so many blankets anyway?

But that's not what I want to talk to you about. What I've noticed while watching TV for those few short hours is that people love stuff. Or at least, that's what companies want you to believe.

Like, did you know that all ladies want diamonds for christmas? Or that guys want trucks...especially big, manly ones? Or that kids want you to buy them lots of noisy plastic toys this year? And don't forget...if you're too busy to cook a nice family meal, there are millions of places you can go to pick up greasy, fried meat with a side of potatoes covered in meat sauce. No vegetables here, only the best for your precious family!

Even though we mute the commercials, I can't help but watch them and feel sad. Actually, it's more than that...the loud, in your face consumerism turns my stomach. While listening to the news this morning, I learned that a few stores are starting their Black Friday sales at 4am, midnight and...wait for it...10pm on the Thursday before Black Friday (otherwise known as Thanksgiving). You'd better get there early because those waffle-makers aren't going to buy themselves!

A few weeks ago, my parents asked us how we wanted to handle the gift situation this year. Did we want to pick a name out of a hat for a gift exchange? Did we want to spend only $10 per person? My brother and I pushed for no gifts this year. Everyone in my family already has everything they need and we'd rather spend the holidays together for free.

The whole conversation got me thinking. My family and I are so fortunate...we have everything we need. But there are people who don't have what they need. I'm not talking about a Play Station, I'm talking about food, medicine and shelter.

So, after a little bit of thinking (and I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner) instead of giving holiday gifts to my family, I've decided to give gifts for them.

Instead of buying my parents a dinner at Chipotle, a family can feed themselves (and their village) for a year with their new vegetable garden.

Instead of a quilt to keep out the Minnesota cold, these mosquito nets will keep a family safe from malaria.

And a video game becomes books and school supplies for deserving kids.

So, that's what I'm doing for the holidays this year. If you want to do the same, check out Oxfam (or other charitable organizations) and help improve the lives of families less fortunate than your own. Because it is a truth universally acknowledged: