Around the time that pumpkins leave people's porches, I start to get that sense of heaviness about holiday shopping. The responsibility of matching gift and giftee is what gets to me. In the spirit of the season, we all yearn to see a big smile of surprise and delight when we give a present. But for me the path to gift exchange frequently wanders off-course, and my friend ends up with an armload of "Gifts I Like."
What if we were to start really giving from the heart? What if our gifts were to say, without apology, more about how We the Givers want to improve our world than how accurately we can guess our friend's favorite colors?
UUSM's annual Alternative Gift Faire offers us the opportunity to change our gift-giving habits, stop feeding the rampant commercialism of the winter holiday season, and support social justice causes. This year the Faire will support UUSM's partner church in the Philippines by offering several Alternative Gift choices: the Share a Meal Program, Education Support, and Disaster Relief. Click on the large “Support the Ulay Alternative Gift Faire” button on the Partner Church page to learn more about these programs and do your holiday shopping. The Ulay UU congregation needs our financial support to fight hunger, keep children in school, and to survive and thrive in these times of environmental and pandemic upheaval. A gift given in the name of a friend or relative, as an alternative to the traditional holiday present, will send a message of love around the world.
"But why not just donate to social justice causes in addition to gift giving?" you may be wondering. "How is this a gift to my relative?" I've asked that, too.
It is my belief that people truly want to find connection and meaning in this world, especially during the holiday season. Each of us yearns to make a difference and fight social injustice. You will be giving your loved one a holiday card featuring a photo of the people directly benefited by his or her gift. The insert in each card describes to your friend or relative the unique impact that this gift will make in the world. When I received an Alternative Gift recently, I was very touched. The giver had recognized what kind of gift was really appropriate for the season and acknowledged that I belonged to a community of people who care deeply about making a positive difference in the lives of others. "You must be the change you wish to see in the world," said Mahatma Gandhi. That's true for people who accept gifts as well as give them. Join me in making the bold move toward Alternative Gift giving.