or a can of worms. a cow. a crocodile. fair trade honey. fishing rights. a bicycle. seeds. trees. a boat.
this christmas list, put together by oxfam america, goes on and on. oxfam is an international relief and development organization, working in over 120 countries to provide everyday essentials to people--things that people like myself often take for granted. their holiday program lets people gift these essentials in the name of others. check out their website if you have time, i think it's quite well done. they've even taken the time to organize items into categories you'd see in a department store catalog... "gifts for mom," "gifts for a new baby," "gifts for gardeners," etc.
the oxfam website does disclaim that these gifts are somewhat symbolic--donations are used in ways that have maximum impact in helping people living in poverty. a goat might not actually be a goat, but food for a village's goats, or education on how to raise goats, etc. important to know, i think, but not a dealbreaker--helping people in need is helping people in need.
how does this kind of gift go over, i wonder? switching out "stuff" for a card that describes a gift given to someone actually in need? i'm actually having a hard time writing out my christmas list this year. a scaled-back lifestyle, coupled with baby things taking up extra room(s) in our house has me wanting a whole lot less than in years past. still, i do so love unwrapping presents. i like stuff. and i'm okay to admit it.
maybe there's a perfect balance to this whole christmas thing. making gifts and buying handmade, but giving to perfect strangers when things become superfluous. i mean, it might really, actually FEEL better to have given someone living in poverty a dozen baby chicks than to have a scented pillar candle sitting on the mantle. and since the real joy of christmas is in the feelings that we get, from the traditions that we make, perhaps it's best to try a new tradition.