Now that the holidays are over and we’ve enjoyed the warm fuzzy feelings, let’s explore another feeling that we often sweep under the rug. For want of a better term, I call it ding dong guilt. Why you ask? Well because it refers to the feeling you sometimes get in the pit of your stomach when you’re all caught up in the merriment on the city sidewalks, and run smack dab into a cheery, or in some cases not so cheery, person ringing their chimes. I won’t name any organizations, but suffice it to say that the representatives normally have on an apron and loudly clang clarions over a black kettle. And they are usually blanketed over the entryways of EVERY store in town before and during the holiday season.
Don’t get me wrong. The first couple of days that we hear the winsome peals, our faces light up with joyous smiles because it’s like a symbol that Christmas is coming. It brings sentimental remembrances of earlier times when to grandmother’s house we went, as well as joyous anticipation of creating new memories as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But there is something a little embarrassing about rolling your buggy full of food out of the grocery store to feed your family, and having no change left to put in the pot to feed the hungry. And you can’t help but feel a tad remorseful when a clerk has to help you lug all of the toys you’ve brought for your little ones out to the car, and there’s nothing left to donate to kiddies who won’t wake up to any toys, save what is given through the kindness of others.
Well, that was 2014. Starting this year and every year forward we can put those doldrums behind us. Here are the top three ways to beat ding dong guilt:
3. Plan Ahead
It is the beginning of the year, so we have 10 full months before the November takeover. So make it a family project and set aside a love jar. Whenever you come in from work, or the kids come in from school, put all of the change in this jar. By the end of the year, you should have multiple jars, or one huge jar. Why not make it fun and instead of a piggy bank, buy or make a huge bell-shaped jar. Some time in October you can have a fun night with some popcorn and hot chocolate, and spend a few hours as a family counting out and rolling the coins in wrappers. Then take the coins to your bank, exchange them for bills and happily be prepared to drop a gift at every store.
2. Explore the Meaning
This is a great catalyst for family discussion and growth. You won’t be so tempted to grimace when you delve into the reasons behind these calls for aid. Honestly, in this day and age, when the majority of states still have their minimum wages at $7.25 per hour, a simple turn of misfortune could have any of us in dire straits indeed. So even though we may not be able to be our brother’s keeper 24 hours a day, we may learn to welcome the opportunity to do what we can when we can.
There’s a song by the late great John Lennon that expresses it beautifully. The lyrics read:
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.
Even though you will not be at the home of each and every recipient of your contribution on Christmas morning, allow yourself to imagine. Picture the astonished screams of the child who never ever really thought they’d get a bicycle. Feel the joy of the mom who envelops her child in a warm coat, and knows that now that child won’t have to stand shivering from the cold at the school bus stop every morning. See in your mind the awed face of a little girl sitting cross-legged on the floor cradling her very first new Barbie doll after a short lifetime of hand-me down toys. Silent tears of happiness stream down her face because she never knew that Barbies came with two arms and legs. Imagine…