Give back all year, not just at Christmas


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Christmas is upon us once again, but don’t worry: I’m not here to give you a “top 10 ideas for giving back” article. 

It’s become cliché to “give back at the holidays.” Articles abound with ideas for giving back and showing people you care about them. People across the country sign up to volunteer at a shelter, to give clothes to a starving child oversees or to reconnect with lost loved ones. Whatever magic potion sneaks into the Christmas Spirit and compels thousands to up their game for a few weeks is truly remarkable, but it is sadly short lived. 

That’s why I don’t want to write to encourage you to do any of the cliché “giving back” activities that you will likely abandon in a couple of weeks. Statistics show that people do most of their annual giving around the holidays. If giving back is anything like new year’s resolutions, however, they’ll have disappeared by March. 

I’m certainly not arguing that you shouldn’t attempt to give back and help others during this Christmas season. I do, however, ask that you be conscious of the ramifications of not following through with your holiday volunteering. Make sure your act of giving back is meant for others, and not just a way to check your name off on the nice list. 

Many people in compromised or at-risk situations look to the holidays as either a very painful time that they struggle to get through or a time to seek out hope. They need to see someone who is committed to long-term service. 

If you choose to serve feeding the homeless this holiday season, please make sure you can do it again in February. If you send a shoebox packed with gifts to an impoverished child across the world at Christmas, don’t just leave it at that. Write that kid a letter in March. The people we so often want to help on Christmas are the ones who need us so desperately the other 364 days as well. 

What has become magic around the holidays should become more familiar to us, and it can if we make it. We must begin giving back all year around, not just when it’s socially popular to do so. 

I encourage you to make giving back your norm going forward and that in doing so, you can get a bit of Christmas magic spread all through the year. 

Merry (not so white if you’re in Lexington) Christmas.