Monday, December 13, 2010

A Generous Alternative to Christmastime Neighbor Gifts

A few years ago, some of the neighbors decided that they’d had enough of Christmastime neighbor gifts. No, they didn’t stop liking their neighbors. But they became concerned about the money people in the neighborhood spent each Christmas season to give each other mostly useless knickknacks, unhealthy treats (of which each household already has an abundance at that time of year), and the like.

Instead of running around from home to home distributing useless and unneeded stuff, wouldn’t it be better to gather and spend time face to face? Wouldn’t it be better to take the money spent on neighbor gifts and give it to those that actually are in need?

That’s how our neighborhood Christmas party began. The second Monday each December, we gather to share one another’s company. Everyone brings treats, so we still have the less-than-nutritious Christmas fare. But you feel less of an obligation to sample the various dishes. You don’t feel like failing to eat junk food will offend your neighbors.

When we gather, we socialize and even sing Christmas songs. We collect items and money to donate to the needy. We go home happy that we’ve shared Christmas cheer with our neighbors while also sharing some of our abundance with those that are less fortunate. Nobody is forced to participate, but we generally get a pretty good turnout.

In the early years, we held the event in one of the neighborhood’s cul-de-sacs. Several neighbors provided fire barrels. We roasted marshmallows and sang songs. That was lots of fun. But then came a couple of years in a row where the weather was quite nasty on the second Monday in December. So last year, one family offered their home for the party. It was quite enjoyable gathering inside. It looks like that tradition will continue.

Each year, one neighbor takes charge of gathering the donations and getting them to appropriate charities. Folks have tended to be fairly generous.

I’m grateful for insightful neighbors that decided to transform neighborhood gifting into neighborhood gathering and sharing. It’s a great neighborhood tradition. I hope it will continue for many years to come.

Oh, it’s time to go to this year’s gathering.

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