Must we have a designated day for everything? Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day were once enough, but now we have Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday to worry about, too.
I say cling to the old and rebel against the new. Take your time shopping. Gaze into store windows. Order hot chocolate at the coffee shop and postpone purchases until you’re good and ready.
Don’t be fenced in by only one day to give, either.
Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. I know this only because an email about it came to me two weeks late for me to participate, which is the first time I noticed the designated day.
I do like the giving tradition of Christmas. I suppose stuffing dollar bills (or larger denominations) into the red kettles where the Salvation Army bell ringers bravely stand does the most good for those benefited by that charity, but there is satisfaction for a giver in the old fashioned clink and clank of coins tossed onto the kettle lid.
Doing so takes a little weight out of your pocket and your heart. The Salvation Army does serve people in need in Platte County, by the way.
If we’re not going to be pinned in on a day, I suppose the same could be argued for the season.
Why give only at Christmas? Well, there are no rules really, but there are realities.
On Monday, we walked around outside in our shirtsleeves. Not even blustery winds strong enough to shake cars on the highway could make us feel cold.
Ah, but overnight temperatures dropped and reminded us winter is shoving late autumn aside. The National Weather Service predicted thermometers would read well below freezing while you’re drinking your morning coffee late this week.
Venture outside in your shorts and t-shirt shortly after sunrise if you don’t believe me. Or even if you’re dressed for winter, 20 degrees sure feels cold.
It is a fact that not all families in Platte County are well stocked with warm socks, sturdy shoes, sweaters and comfy coats to deal with winter.
You have to know what it’s like to not have money to go shopping for yourself or the children despite the season’s change to understand fully. Sometimes people just get by with what got them through a summer, and sometimes they don’t.
People suffer in cold.
Teenagers go to school pretending the cold doesn’t bother them. Children go out the door knowing things are not normal compared to what they see on TV, if the electricity is still on.
Or perhaps not as bad, but hugely stressful anyway, is the family that has a bit more but knows any bad tire, illness, engine trouble, job loss or one more bill could break their ability to get by.
And you know, it’s weird and shaming and anxiety ridden to be without as the heart of winter descends during the peak holiday days.
And frankly, the political and social chaos we’re enduring is exhausting for us all. Well, there is something we all can agree on. It feels good to help others.
Here’s a suggestion if you’re looking for a place to give in Platte County. Ring up the Community Action Agency of Greater Kansas City. They have a little office and aid center in Tracy, call them at (816) 858-5153, or drop by at 412 Aller Ave. The agency used to have United Services in their name. They’ve been helping people for several decades.
You’ll be helping them help people.
Some are working people who hold jobs but the pay is low, the benefits nil and they’ve hit humps their household can’t get over. The basics of life aren’t getting any cheaper. But neither is pay for working folks getting any higher.
For some, it is worse, they’ve lost jobs. Bad luck strikes some. Others give it their all to find a once steady occupation is now part of a business shutting down, or laying off workers or outsourcing jobs outside the United States.
Community Action Agency of Greater Kansas City is an incredibly boring name, but life is not boring if you’ve been called into an office to find out you’ve lost a job.
What a brighter day it is when you find a place that can help with the heat bill, emergency food, rent to keep a place to live, education, job finding services and connections to federal, state and other non-profit programs that can help.
Social services agencies evolved in recent decades. They can provide immediate help, or Christmas presents for the kids, thanks to donations from the public and networking in the social service realm, but perhaps more important, they coach, encourage and connect people with ways to build a better future.
The future building is critical.
So if your holidays seem stuck in humdrum, you can donate to a charity and give someone light in winter’s darkness. Goodness needs no designated day, only generosity’s warm intent.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.