Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day 4 of Giving that Gives Back: How Not to Be the Grinch

One of the things that's hard about tackling this issue on a personal level is others' reaction to it. I do not know a single person who would try to become a more intentional consumer for the sake of making others feel bad about themselves. And yet that seems to be the general reaction.

People feel the need to defend themselves or declare us a saint. It's hard not feel pressured to stop talking about this at this point. No one wants to ruin someone else's merry. I am hardly here to try to make another mom feel badly about herself for sticking a candy-cane shaped tube of Hershey's Kisses in someone's stocking. And yet, judging by the comments in my friend Sarah's post at the NC Register today, it seems that this is exactly what happens when we go there.

Here's the thing, I am convinced it is better to do something rather nothing. I know my efforts will never be perfect and I will likely never get the opportunity to physically rescue someone from slavery. I know my best attempts may fail me and I might find out the ethically sourced chocolate I purchased was mailed in bubble wrapped that spreads cancer to workers in a developing nation. It's just unavoidable.

But here's the thing. If I never try to change my actions based on what I know, nothing will change. Not in me and not in the world. Bianca Olthoff, who is fighting trafficking on the front lines with the A21 campaign said something when I heard her speak recently. She summed up perfectly our purpose here with this short phrase: "Awareness should lead to advocacy should lead to action". We cannot be paralyzed by fear or guilt or being simply overwhelmed. We have to live in the tension that we can try and never get it totally right. But if we are aware there is an injustice as grave as modern day slavery rising to epidemic proportions in our time, we must use our voice to advocate for solving it and we must take what action is available to us. Tweaking Christmas is one way we can start.

But we can also find ways to do it without being the Grinch to those around us who would feel indicted by our action. One way is invite them to make merry with you in this. My friend Audrey hosted "A Different Kind of Christmas Party" this weekend.

Nickie's table representing St. Bryce Missions at
Audrey's "Different Kind of Christmas Party"
She invited friends to represent causes they were passionate about with tables set up in her living room. Then her guests made merry with holiday cheer and goodies while they had a chance to get to know the opportunities to give a different kind of gift this Christmas. She had children to sponsor in Ethiopia and items made by social enterprise initiatives. And my dear friend Nickie invited guests to purchase chickens for our St. Bryce Missions Chicken Run Project which provides chickens to families with undernourished children in our area.
A festive little chicken gift bag to bring her gifts home on
She made it lovely and fun and festive for the guests. Just look at those photos! They even took home little gift bags with gift cards in them to give to whomever they had purchased the chicken in honor of.  After the party, Audrey sent all her guests links to the groups that were represented at the party.

Rather than try hard to make changes and end up feeling like the Grinch this Christmas, why not find a way to creatively celebrate your efforts at change? And look, don't freak out about how your baked goods are contributing to slavery while you have a party to help stop it. Just relax. Breathe a little.

Find some friends around you who are passionate about a certain organization or group, invite them to advocate for that group. Don't know anyone to ask? Do a virtual one. Invite your guests to bring their favorite gadgets and introduce them to the links we are sharing here or your personal favorites. Bookmark and pin in holiday style. Encourage them to think not only about products to purchase, but encourage them to choose a non-consumer option or a charity gift for at least three of their gifts this Christmas. Give them permission for it to be yours. Have festive round up friends. Play some Christmas tunes. And change the world without anyone having to feel badly about herself. We have to start somewhere. Why not with a party?

Don't forget that you can find all the posts in this series linked in the original post.


  1. A friend pointed me to your blog today. She reads both yours and mine and thinks we have super-similar passions. She's right. Love what I've read so far. Linking to you in tomorrow's post. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. I'm so glad we found each other Marla. I just looked at your post from today too. It certainly seems like our hearts are in the same place. So happy you found your way here and commented!