Why not make this holiday season different? Instead of shopping, standing on long lines, and taking the chance of getting something your family and friends actually didn’t want (and will be standing in long lines to return after the holidays), do something meaningful for them, for you, and for the causes that are important to you or them. Make a contribution to your—or their—favorite charity. Before you write me off as the Grinch about to steal, not just Christmas, but the whole joy and merriment of the season, consider this: how many millions (or is it billions?) of dollars are spent this time of year? Money is spent for fun and enjoyment, in a stressful and tight schedule, on wrapping paper that ends up in the trash, and on gifts that end up in the corners of somebody’s closet. Does it make sense? Now, consider the other side of it. How many worthy charities are in desperate need of funds? No matter what is important to you, there are causes that speak to your heart. Disabled children? The hungry? The elderly? Orphaned babies? Animal rights? Malnourished children in third-world countries? Whatever it is, you’ll find many charities who are more than happy to take your gift-shopping stress and turn it into something so much more meaningful. Of course, you’ll still have to shop. You can’t give a contribution in the name of a child who might be expecting a large, beautifully wrapped package under the tree. And you wouldn’t want to do that. Your spouse also should get a special gift from you. But in a world where most people buy everything they need for themselves, and almost everything they WANT too, why not add some meaning to the season? A great way to get started is by letting family and friends know you’d prefer gift givers to make contributions in your name to a charity you care about. Be specific. Give them the contact details, whether it’s a phone number, a website or both. Let them know how much you appreciate it, and ask if you can return the favor. Someone who expects a gift from you should get that gift. But for everyone else, there are better options. Think out of the box, and start a new tradition; a tradition that will truly bring joy and peace to the world in a way an overly-commercialized holiday never could.

Published December 16, 2010
This entry was posted in Money Sense.

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