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Spirit of holiday giving needs to last year-round

No beating around the bush. No flowery platitudes about what a wonderful time of year it is.

No, I’m not Scrooge, just trust me here. I just get wild, crazy and sad when I see the extravagance that goes into making the season bright. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year yet so many have so little while others spend so much or max out their credit cards to “celebrate” the birth of one who came to save mankind.

If you hold this belief, perhaps a look at his life is in order. If you observe Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights that remembers the Jewish people’s struggle for religious freedom, perhaps a look at the reason for this celebration is in order.

The excesses of the season make me shudder. Sure, the spending is good for the economy. The decorations are beautiful. The parties bring us together with friends. The gifts bring smiles, and the food gives comfort and joy. But when a quiet contentment exists by handing over individual responsibility to charitable organizations and churches that provide a meal or a gift for those who have little at this time of year, there is a question about what we value as a community.

Many in Boulder City give generously to the organizations caring for our neighbors but what about the day after the holiday?

We talk about how we would love to see the Christmas season live throughout the year. This is a season that should keep on giving. How do we do that? What’s the answer to helping our neighbors become participating members of the community? Or, more importantly, do we care enough to solve the problems of hunger, unemployment and homelessness?

We’ve got to put ourselves in another person’s situation in order for their feelings to hit home. Picture yourself days away from the next paycheck, or Social Security check or pension check, but you need some groceries and there are two doctor bills to be paid.

Picture yourself living in a car with no access to a bathroom, but you saw an ad for a job you want to apply for. You can make yourself presentable for an interview, but you have no home address. There is just enough gas to make it to the interview. If this job doesn’t work out, you can’t make it to another interview.

You’re not thinking about holidays and presents and decorations because you have all you can do to keep yourself together thinking about if the heat or the power is going to be turned off because you were only able to pay part of last month’s bill. You’re not thinking about decking any halls because you don’t have any suitable clothes to wear; there’s no money to put gas in the car to go to any party and you weren’t able to make a potluck dish to share with yourself, much less a group. You’re embarrassed to let on to others that this is your situation.

The Boulder City organizations that are able to help in some of these situations can’t do it all. They need all of us, especially those who have the most to give. Everyone needs to support these groups all year, not only during the holiday season.

Consider spending a little less on the decorations, gifts and food and donating the excess to one of these groups. Consider becoming a volunteer and seeing how so many folks have to make it through their daily life. Consider whether you truly need that next trip, or pair of theater tickets, or the expensive dinner at a fancy restaurant or whether that money could be donated to provide clothes or gas for the car or a bus pass to a person who really needs to get that job.

We whip ourselves into a spending frenzy at this time of year to make one day special, but we can make every day special by sharing and giving all year long.

I don’t remember what commercial said you should give until it hurts, but it seems so much better to give so that others don’t. It’s painless.

Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She can be reached at roseannrab@hotmail.com or at 702-339-9082.

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