I know it is that time of year. Feast of the Cash Register time. There was some sort of Black Friday, a Cyber Monday, a Giving Tuesday, maybe even a Fuck All Wednesday? It seems we all just feast together on a big fat bird that probably never saw it coming and then go rabid over items made in China that we'll foist upon those who we hope love us who probably do not really need any more things at all.
What they may need, just maybe, is more of us. I am just as horribly guilty of not giving of myself enough as any of the rest of you who may be reading here and feeling a slight twinge of awful about the time your friend asked you to please meet her for lunch and you begged off because you really just wanted seventeen minutes to sit in your comfy pants on the couch in absolute silence by yourself and eat a Snickers bar and not have anyone ask you for anything at all.
Time. Attention. Love.
Who doesn't always want just a bit more of any of those things? I will admit that this year, especially, I have learned that I can always give more of me. There's magic in love. It actually does make more time.
Around the Salty House, we actually are having quite a mixed review of the holiday season. Mostly because the two men who live here are much bigger fans of Christmas than the naked girl who shares the house with them. 'LilSalty asked me very directly why I didn't celebrate Christmas and I told him it was because, quite frankly, I celebrate the *meaning* of Christmas every single day and I don't need just one day, in December, to pile on the presents to show how much I really care. He cocked his head to the side (which is what he does as he considers something that I've shared carefully in his very seven year old way) and then said, "Good point! You really do. You give everything to every body all the time!" I may not actually give everything to every body, but I appreciate that since joining his family he's noticed that I feel it is very important to give when we can. Even if it is just a smile, some love and some of your time. We all need kindness and more love in our lives.
Now, that said, if you're also looking for a gift that may keep on giving long after the wrapping fades and the crazed madness of the most wonderful time of the year stops jingling in the space between your ears, I have just a few suggestions. Just suggestions. I know all of you are very thoughtful and loving souls who may have even better and greater ideas than these. Feel free to share them, too.
1. You know I'm going to give a shout out for animals. Hooray for The Underdog is a husband and wife photography team from Dallas that photograph shelter dogs for rescue organizations (love that!) and create various cards, stationary, and gifts that you can purchase. Ten percent of proceeds then go back to shelters and animal rescue organizations. Of course, obviously, a direct donation to your own local shelter is a fantastic way to help and there is also donations still needed for the various shelters that rescued many of the animals from SANDY.
2.I now share my life with a seven year old. I refer to him, often, as the small child who sometimes lives with us and people who don't know me well look at me like I am possibly forcing him to go live in the park under a random tree or something in the days when he isn't living here. No, people. He's living with his beautiful and loving mother. The woman who actually birthed him, all warm and cozy. However, there are kids who are not living in a warm and cozy house. Those kids can use a warm security blanket, a book to read, a stuffed animal. The comforts of a home. Project Night Night provides exactly those things to thousands of children. This year, they've already provided 1,000 bags to children who were affected by Sandy. For just $20, you can help give a blanket and book and stuffed animal to another homeless child. I know that 'Lilsalty will be doing that with me.
3. From the Four Corners of the Earth is not just a Jewish story or an African story. It’s a profoundly human story. Our human need to belong drives us to find and connect with one another. It’s a need so strong that it shrinks the distance between nations, between cultures, between people.
The filmmakers intent with this project is to tell a story about a shrinking world: a world made smaller by people focusing on those things that bring them together rather than those things that push them apart. You can be a very important part of bringing this extraordinary story to the world. It isn't just a documentary, it is a historic journey and with a Kickstarter pledge, you will become a part of it! This is a story of hope you can share with your own pledge and then give to honor those you love.
4. The ladies and gents of Warwick Rowing have stripped it all off for charity. Of course, it made me give some serious thought to actually offering up a Nakedjen Calendar of my own with all profits going to Epilepsy Research or something, but given the late hour, that idea may have to wait. All of our bodies are beautiful, as I always say, and these naked bodies are no exception. The profits of the ladies' calendar are going to Cervical Cancer research, which is a very worthy cause. Of course, not everyone really needs or wants a calendar of naked folks, but if you're the one who does, I think this one might be the one you'd really like!
5. The Network For Good offers you the best gift card option for that impossible person on your list. With THE GOOD CARD you get to choose the amount and give it to your Uncle who already has everything including a Maserati and he gets to choose exactly which Charity he'd like to give to this year. You fill his stocking, he fills the stocking of a child with AIDS in India. Or of a Hurricane Sandy victim who is still not able to live at home. Or perhaps providing a goat to a family in Bosnia. The giving is happening, the love is spreading, everyone is sharing for good.
6. Finally, because I am me and wouldn't be me if I didn't mention it, I need to share a link to the good folks at McSweeney's. I give gifts from them frequently. The charity here, truthfully, isn't quite as obvious or direct, but I'm an English and Theatre major who appreciates that Dave Eggers created McSweeney's and the 826 Tutoring Centers and now, the VAD Foundation, to bring the love of language to a our most precious resource, the next generation of writers and thinkers. By supporting all the wonderful quirky things that McSweeney's gives us we directly support their altruistic efforts, as well. Here at Chez Salty we have a regular subscription to LUCKY PEACH and we devour it the moment it arrives in our mailbox. We also have, because how can we not, a subscription to WOLPHIN. If you love film and you especially love film festivals, but do not get to go to all the ones you wish you could attend, WOLPHIN is like getting a film festival delivered right to your house. It is just that much fun. Pop the popcorn, snuggle on the couch and prepare to have your mind explode!
Finally, for excellent writing already curated for you in the best of ways, I highly recommend Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. Really. These are all gifts, honestly, you should just give to you. I know you've been very good this year. You've given love, you've spread good cheer, you've shared all your glitter. Santa told me. These are the things just for you. ♥