There are a large number of posts and articles circulating at this time of year, with gift guides for this, that, and the other person in your life. This is not one of those posts. Today we look at a different kind of giving: giving to those who actually need it.
Some traditions say the 12 Days of Christmas are those from the 25th of December to the 5th of January; others say the 26th of December to the 6th of January – aka Epiphany or Twelfth Night. You can choose either, or you can pretend to be a baker and have your “12” Days run from the 25th to the 6th.
Since this coming Sunday marks the beginning of Advent, the fast that leads up to the feast of Christmas, this post could be construed as a little premature. But it never hurts to have time to mull over things. These days the “fast” of Advent seems to be more about the speed of the frenziedly busy days whizzing by, rather than abstaining from something.
(You’ve probably heard of the tradition of giving something up for Lent; perhaps we could consider choosing the least life-giving/most soul-destroying part of the December hustle and bustle and announce to the world that we have given it up for Advent.)
But back to the 12 Days of Christmas Giving. The idea is that for each day, one chooses a charity to make a donation to. You might have favourite charities all lined up, or you might want to choose a number of charities working in an area you are passionate about. Or – and this is my personal favourite – you could actually choose Christmas-themed charities.
Humility tends to be eyed askance these days, given a certain degree of lip service but little enthusiasm. It seems like the kind of virtue other people might want us to have, for their benefit rather than ours.
But there are a great many misunderstandings about humility.
Humility is not humiliation. Humility is something you choose for yourself; humiliation is something others force on you.
Humility is not hypocrisy. The reason why it has that reputation is due to the aforementioned lip service. Humble people don’t need to tell you they are.
Humility isn’t grovelling upsuckery, a pretence carried out to manipulate others into doing what you want. (Looking at you, Uriah Heep.)
Humility isn’t even running yourself down. That is more accurately known as false humility. False because it isn’t what you really think, and false because it isn’t really humility, either.
So much stuff comes into our lives these days – or attempts to – that it can be hard to process it all. Some choices are easy: junk mail in the recycle bin, useful bags into the Bag of Useful Bags, last week’s newspaper into the kindling basket/worm farm/rodent cage, etc.
But other choices can be harder to make. Should I buy this petit objet? Should I accept this goody-bag? Should I chip in for this fundraiser even if I’m not that keen on what they’re selling?
While reading The Fellowship of the Ring, I came up with a useful measuring stick for these situations: is it mathom-worthy? That is, is it something that you could pass on to someone else, regift, or donate?