Seems like a lot of work to get holiday shopping done, isn’t it? I have noticed more and more (as I get older and older), that stuff doesn’t mean quite as much as family time. It seems like a trend for people my age (a..hem…29) and older feel the same. Personally, I live in an older house that, when built, people didn’t have more than 3 sets of clothes and 2 pairs of shoes. My closet space is valuable and at this stage of the game, I would so rather not receive a craptastic gift from a box store (unless of course you’ve heard me talk about how I REALLY need to get new underwear and toilet paper). I would so RATHER spend time with my family eating, drinking and being silly. So, in this thrilling episode of Shop Local, Tampa! we are going to explore how to make your holidays mean something a little more than who gives the most and best gifts (that would be anyone who shops at Hogan Made) and more about giving.
So, you might be ‘that’ family where mom goes COMPLETELY overboard with gifts and food while dad sits in the living room sucking down scotch on the recliner as the dog paws at his face to get those damned reindeer antlers off. You might be ‘that’ family who competes for who brings the most gifts, spends the most on those gifts and spends more on the wrapping than I do on a crappy pair of flip flops from CVS. Maybe you USED to be that family, but you are all entering the stages of your lives where you realize that you don’t NEED all that shit to have an AWESOME holiday. Maybe things need to change and YOU can BE the change this holiday season.
Here is my AbFab idea to change any family holiday into a feel good, charitable scene:
Sometime before the actual holiday, team up when you have everyone cornered…I mean together. Start talking about what charities people give to and why. Maybe ask Uncle Frank why he writes a $12 check to the American Fund for Children, Veterans, and Pathetic Dog Pictures. Maybe you could suggest something FUN! What if everyone around the table chose their favorite charity they’d like to support and put in $50? Maybe on Christmas day you could plan a tournament of some kind (board games, darts, egg nog style Olympics) and everyone had to play. Let’s say the winner is Aunt Jolene and she just LOOOVES her some big cat. Aunt Jolene can take all the money and donate it Big Cat Rescue. Or, maybe Cousin Bob is a veteran and wants to support a local VFW post or an awesome organization like The Stano Foundation. Suppose Auntie Clara recently had surgery on her eyes and after FINALLY seeing the neighbor’s pool boy clearly for the first time, wants to donate to the Lion’s Eye Institute. What if your brother, Joe, is a big fan of rescuing dogs, but after Hurricane Michael has one shy of being featured on Animal Hoarders: Buried Alive in Animal Poop. He’ll probably want to give to an organization like Love From Luke Dog Sanctuary.
Whichever team you’re playing for, should you choose this route, you will all be winners! Well, except for the ones that lose….you all will be losers. This is just ONE way to get down with the charity game for the holidays. Maybe you have a tradition of the big Trivial Pursuit game with that really close family friend that you’re not sure you should call an Aunt or Grandma. Just incorporate the grand prize as giving to charity. You might have an Uncle Tony that likes a good game of poker and cigar after stuffing his face with baked ziti, or maybe you take bets on when Aunt Patty will get drunk and end up face first in her soup. All of these things you can still do, while giving.
Another way to share the love at the holidays is to adopt a family from Metropolitan Ministries. Cater a meal for their family, grab some gifts, gift cards and games for the kids and maybe a spa day for mom, sports tickets for dads and spend your money where it will REALLY make a difference in someone’s life. You’d be surprised at how humble you become and how happy it makes you to do something like this. Now, we don’t want to go getting them a big ass frozen turkey if they don’t have an oven, or give them homemade food (because people are just weird about stuff like that from strangers). Find out specifics, like the age and interests of the kids, sizes of shoes, pants and shirts. Many times families will need simple things like backpacks, notebooks and pencils for school. If Metro Ministries doesn’t do it for you, check out the Salvation Army or even talk to your teacher friends. There are SO many families out there that would NEVER in million ask for help, but need it. And often times they have been saving since last year to make sure the kids have just a few toys each to open. There are a LOT of fortunate people out there that can help a family out. Maybe yours could be one this year?
So, go, little givers, and feel GOOD about the holidays for once in your life!