Despite my many complaints, I do live a blessed life. I am healthy (not counting the pre-arthritis and bursitis ... old age isn't an illness, right?), able-bodied, above the poverty line, gainfully employed, and surrounded by people who improve my life simply be being in it. While I moan and cry about not being with my family this holiday, I fully recognize that it is an extremely minor inconvenience in my life, paled in comparison to the many people who suffer greatly this season. I haven't lost my livelihood and savings in the recession, and I still have roof over my head and food in my cupboards. My children aren't starving or going without warm coats, and I not (currently) battling insurance companies for coverage of a major (or minor) illness. I truly am blessed. Sometimes I just need to pull my head out of the sand to realize how lucky I really am.
This Christmas, The Boy and I are only doing Sixty Dollar Stockings. We are going to save our money to go somewhere together at a later date, and we are filling each other's stockings with gifts that total no more than $60. We normally go WAY overboard for each other, and neither one of us can really afford it this year. Plus, there are better things to do with our money. We'll put some things together for B, but we aren't doing anything else for anyone else. My family has been notified of this (I usually buy for my parents and whoever I draw for the swap), and they completely understand.
Instead of spending money on presents and material things, The Boy and I are giving back this year. We are spending Christmas afternoon serving dinner to the homeless and less fortunate. We are also going to be making some donations to Heifer International. If you are unfamiliar with this group, the project focuses on providing people with the tools and materials necessary to create a sustainable food source and income. When I was a kid, our church did Heifer Projects every year. I always thought that they were all overseas. Turns out, Hefier International works globally, within the States and without. Not that it makes a difference, but it was cool to discover. HI has put together a "catalog" of giving that allows one to see the many types of giving available. You can give anything from a waterbuffalo on down to a hive of honeybees. The money donated goes to the entire mission, but it is nice to see how such a small amount of money can help someone to become more self-sufficent and economically stable. And the gifts start as low as $20, so it is something that even us poor grad students can contribute to. The Boy and I are thinking about giving some honeybees, geese, ducks, and chicks. Maybe even a trio of bunnies. It will be nice to give something back to others to remind me of how blessed I truly am.