By David Usher
Christmas is often considered to be little more a time of giving stuff to people. Many of us rush around to get something for everyone we would feel embarrassed about if we left off the list. This is not the spirit of giving – it is the insecurity that develops when we have no gratitude.
The true spirit of Christmas is "gratitude". No matter how much we have, or how little, or how much we have lost or been taken advantage of, gratitude is the answer. Everyone religious or atheist can have gratitude simply by practicing it.
For everyone I have ever met who thought they had a lousy lot in life, I have also met a person who is not grateful for what they do have.
When I worked in China, I met people living in freezing weather in little huts, heated only by an iron pot in the middle of the room with a few bricks of coal in it. Water was a good hike down the road. Forget electricity. Yet, they were perfectly happy and contented.
Every person has something to be very grateful for. Perhaps is a decent job, or a good spouse who stands by you in thick or thin. Maybe you are very close with your parents, or you have a close friend. Even if you have air, water, three square feet of land, and a bite of food to eat, you have something to be grateful for.
Even if you are poor, and furnished your home with furniture others put out by the street, you have something to be very grateful for.
Folks who are angry because they "don't have enough" or their lot in life isn't "up to snuff", have not realized that when gratitude is practiced, the anger melts away.
When we feel gratitude, and the weight of self-imposed worry is lifted, then we are truly ready to give to others. We are able to give what we can truly give. The gift of friendship is a fine gift. A few words of moral support, helping a friend in trouble, or working for a cause you truly believe in costs nothing and is worth more than money itself.
For those who find enough gratitude and have some financial resources, I would like to suggest a couple of organizations whose members do incredible work, giving tirelessly of themselves all year around, and get nothing in return for it.
One organization is Mens News Daily (http://mensnewdaily.com). Mike Lasalle invested a tremendous sum of money, and has never made a dime from it.
Another is RADAR – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting (http://mediaradar.org). RADAR has successfully impacted both the nation and the world, financed by nothing more than a donation button on their web site.
There are many other websites equally deserving. Let us each help at least one of them if we have the financial means to do so. Let us give to organizations that give of themselves all year, if we can afford it. If not, let us give of our time in some way.
Let everyone now spend a few minutes writing down a list titled "I am grateful for ….". The gift of Christmas will come for you, even if you think you have nothing to give.
David R. Usher is Senior Policy Analyst for the True Equality Network, and President of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, Missouri Coalition