Is it a good thing or a bad thing that I now have more time to sit and write? That, of course, means that I have more time to sit and consider and that can go both ways.
I was listening to the radio and they just announced that today is Christmas’ Eve Eve. I simply turned the radio off and starting poking around through my books and notes for something to send out as the first cinchcast.
Then the careful piles of toys the Mad Kitten had made distracted me. They are separated by color and size. I am choosing not to think too much about that but have made a mental note not to leave her alone in the house with the cell phone.
It’s surprising how ingrained the process of giving gifts is in our culture. I know people who rail against the commercialization of the season and yet, simultaneously, are experiencing new depths of depression because they are not capable of giving the type of gifts they want to the people they love.
On the flip side is the holiday resurgence of people who want to “do something.” Which, like the January rise in gym memberships, has a tendency of wandering off into the sunset where all well intentioned, but not well thought through, commitments seems to go.
Services and agencies who work with the poor and the homeless are always grateful for the special influx of volunteers that arrive on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it is a gratitude that is tempered by a jaded sort of realism. The people who arrive will usually disappear after making great protestation about how they are going to commit to helping. Or, my favorite, the ones who show up to “save the day” and criticize what has been going on, start new initiatives and then disappear when they “don’t have time” anymore.
It is no small wonder that an attitude I recently heard describe as “provincialism” has taken hold in the service communities. People who show up 52 weeks out of the year to work in areas of need begin to get rather territorial and defensive of their agency or service being the only one who knows how to do what they do.
It can lead to a kind of defensive posturing and close mindedness between agencies that prevents truly collaborative efforts from occurring. This can be wrongly perceived as a culture that seeks to perpetuate the existence of the problem they profess to be trying to resolve in order to preserve both job and role (which comes to be tied to their sense of value and esteem).
I think, that a piece of undoing this tangle, is for holiday volunteers to develop a kind of acceptance of the reality of their presence. Just go do it. You are so moved and you have the day off and it makes you feel good and they need a hand. Let go of the sudden statements and expectations of how this all heralds a new life of commitment and just go be the gift that you are.
Commitment, I have found out, is not something that is announced, but something that is discovered, as if by an archeologist sifting through the soil. Commitment lies in the evidence, not the announcement.
Maybe, if we freed ourselves from the weight of any kind of charity demanding a lifelong commitment, we might find ourselves more willing to play the role of the gift throughout the year.
c.2010. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.