Monday, December 12, 2005

Remembering Those Less Fortunite this Christmas

Warning – below is a gag, puke, “Oh My God could you be any sappier” post… Read at your own risk! But I promise it has a very good point.

Sometimes it just hits me, how very, very lucky I truly am. Yesterday I realized, as I was shoveling spinach and rice into pumpkin’s mouth, I do not have a single thing in my life I could complain about. Yeah, I could go on and on about the weather here, though we have had a VERY mild fall this year, and I could gripe about my post-pregnancy body till the cows come home. But real complaints I do not have. I have a wonderful kind, loving, sexy, handsome and hilarious husband who absolutely adores our daughter and loves me to pieces (though I often wonder why). I have a healthy, curious, beautiful baby girl who is the light of my world. We have our families, who are healthy and happy, though sometimes very far away. We own a home, have money in the bank, food in the fridge and can afford for me to dedicate myself now to raising our daughter.

So many people have so much less. Why do I deserve such happiness when there are so many others suffering today?

When I lived in San Francisco I saw homelessness on a daily basis. People down on their luck, people in need of rehab programs or mental care, people who the world had turned their backs on. All this surrounded by us yuppie kids, throwing our dot-com money around. It was easy to become numb to them, to the men sitting in doorways in sleeping bags, cardboard boxes used as shelters; the people who would talk to themselves or to no one, pushing shopping carts with their only possessions. The women, even the children I saw begging for money on the corner. I would give them a dollar here or there, rolling my window down at the intersection of Geary and Van Ness to hand the veteran with one leg something. Yet what was that dollar really? I would probably blow $50 easily that night going out, not including cab fare. For that same $50 they could have a hotel room for a night or two, a warm meal, perhaps buy a coat and shoes at Good Will.

It is easy to feel like I have done nothing while enjoying my own good fortune and happiness. What really separates me from the homeless in SF or anywhere else? Luck of the draw? Good health? Not much more than that. In fact what separates me from a child in Africa who is starving? From a woman dying of AIDS, from a child prostitute in Asia? I basically had the privilege of being born healthy in a wealthy country to loving parents. I had the privilege of clean water, healthcare and an education.

I alone can not change the world; I can not make a difference for all those people who do not have as much privilege as me. But I can try and make a dent in it, look at my luck and try to bring some luck to someone else. I can try to make the world just a bit better place for my daughter to live in. Mr. P and I will not be exchanging gifts this year for Christmas; instead we will each give to one of our favorite charities.

This holiday season I urge you to do the same. Look at your lives and all that you have, and then see if you can give a little of what you have to bring something to someone who is less fortunate. I have listed here links to just a few of the major charities and non-profit organizations that could use your donations. If I have missed one you feel should be here please let me know.

Acumen Fund (Clean Water)
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
Children International
Direct Relief International
Feed the Children
Freedom From Hunger
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
National Coalition for the Homeless
March of Dimes
The Nature Conservancy
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Save The Children
STOP AIDS NOW
UNICEF
United Cerebral Palsy Association
United Way
War Child International
World Food Programme
World Wildlife Fund

And for the person who has everything, this Christmas why not buy them a charity gift basket or gift certificate from JustGive.org.

posted by Laura @ 6:10 PM   4 comments