I’ve found the most enjoyment I get from my money, though, is by spending it on someone who is truly grateful. I’m a big fan – especially around the holidays – of loosening the coinpurse. No, that is not a metaphor for freeballing. I had several holidays growing up where either the food wasn’t there, the gifts, or both. I was never disappointed by the lack of gifts – I’ve always found holiday gift-giving as being a vehicle for spending time with the family. Honestly, I could do less with more ‘things’ and more with people. But, I digress from this rant.
Something I’ve done with my age is to correct that for others. I won’t say this insight was brought about from my wisdom or maturity, because I don’t think either is required to know how to bring a smile to somebody’s day. Maybe a youthful optimism in humans combined with my adult income. No, that’s not a joke. While I dislike the more adult version of humans – they’ve lost the ability to view life with that singular joy of having seen something for the very first time – I find the fire of the smaller ones absolutely worth the effort to feed and grow.
It’s not that hard, really. A few extra bucks at the grocery store nets a few tins of food that someone out there can’t buy for their family. A ten dollar toy is worth a hundred dollars to a child that has none. Hell, here’s a REAL easy one – you know how grocery stores offer those free turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas? But you never really use it because you’ll be chowing with friends and family? Why not donate the bird to your local food pantry?
One of our holidays in Hammondsport – maybe it was Christmas; could have been Thanksgiving. It was cold, I sure as hell remember that. It was another winter when ends didn’t always meet reliably, leaving more than a few days each month without hot water for showers. I tell ya, it’s a bloody bitch to wake up cold, take a cold shower, then walk a half a mile to school in the – you guessed it – cold. For all the whippersnappers out there: this was not up a hill both ways, nor did I live in the sticks. Anyway, the great day was drawing nigh, and I will always remember the look on my mother’s face when she brought home that basket from the food pantry. There was stuffing, and tinned cranberries, some green beans – so much for the holiday, and even beyond. All we needed was some meat, which wouldn’t be too hard (I recall chicken being used and it being FANTASTIC).
The look on her face wasn’t pride nor shame. It wasn’t boastfulness or a general gratefulness. It was relief. The kind of soul-rending relief that peace of mind and the full stomach of a child can bring. It was one less holiday worry, now turned into one more holiday miracle.
I don’t remember that many holiday meals with my mother. I think the divorce took its toll there with so many spent visiting my father and his family. That, or the offerings were not always of a Dickensian affair, what with beggar-sized birds and the like. But, I will always remember that year: the year several people contributed just a little bit to give our family so much.
So, I may be off my nutter. Well, fuck you very much: it’s my nutter to be on or off of. However, there are those that have no nutter to speak of, and for them, I’ll keep clearing my pantry every few months and heading down to the local food pantry. It’s in a church. It does not burst into flames when I cross the threshold (provided I’m in an out quickly enough). I’ll grab two of a toy when shopping, just to donate one – doesn’t have to be big or anything. I’ll give a dollar to feed hungry children, or whatever the most local charity that collects at the grocery store checkout is. Ultimately, it’s just a few dollars that someone out there can use so much more and so much better than I can.
Besides, if it gives these kids at least one great memory like it did for me, it’s worth a million dollars in my book.