The holidays are here again, so brace yourself for the inevitable tug of war between charity and commercialism. The Christmas season should be about giving to others, we all know that, but we also want to give to our own family. This Christmas Colum is old enough to really look forward to the loot, to write a letter to Santa and to be wowed by the presents on Christmas morning. And I really want to wow him. So I think, sure I’ll give to others after I have taken care of my own family. I think, I support giving and charity, I do, and it’s really great that other people are so into that kind of thing. They must have more money and time and fewer responsibilities than I do.
But then I think of my mother and my mother-in-law. These are two women who have raised four children each and worked full-time jobs and balanced budgets and somehow managed to put food on the table and shoes on our feet no matter how scarce money was. They also managed to be everywhere at once: the skating rink and ballet classes and school plays and baseball games. From the PTA and Boy Scouts (Donna) to nursing relatives on their death beds and sitting on the floor of a Greyhound bus while eight months pregnant (Mom), there is nothing these women wouldn’t do. Their entire lives have been guided by a sense of giving and self-sacrifice. They volunteer their time and energy and money as a matter of course, never stopping to wonder if they have enough to spare. Whenever and wherever a need arises, these women automatically ask themselves, “How can I help?” (Not “Should I help?” or “I wish I could help.”) And then, swiftly and quietly, they do.
So when I started seeing initiatives that encourage bloggers to use their corporate and social networking connections to pay their good fortune forward I thought, good. I mean, after the recent scourge of name calling and finger pointing that has been dominating mommy-blogging circles in the lead up to and the wake of the new FTC regulations (the assumption that we are all corporate whores, essentially, willing to give it up for free crap), this is a breath of fresh air. Initiatives like Her Bad Mother’s Give Good Blog or Mamanista’s Bloganthropy encourage bloggers to champion a cause and to exploit any corporate contacts in doing so.
Yeah, bloggers should totally do that, I thought. I would too if only I were more widely read and had more companies knocking at my door. But wait. I did use my blog to host an online raffle for breast cancer research at the Princess Margaret Hospital. And I did reach out to family-oriented businesses, many run by moms who are friendly with the blogging community for awesome donations. And they did come through. I actually used my blog to raise over $2000 in personal donations to the Weekend To End Breast Cancer. When my good friend Gillian lost her baby, I blogged about that and made up a button that links to the Sick Kids Foundation’s donation page and stuck it at the bottom of that post and in my sidebar. Huh.
Maybe I can do something after all. So then I emailed Kathryn Easter from Mom Central Canada and said, Hey. You know that giveaway we’re doing for Disney on Ice? What are the chances we can get another set of tickets to give to a family that is spending the holidays at Interval House, a safe haven for abused women and children? And Kathryn said, Let’s do it up. (I’m totally paraphrasing, you know.) And so we are.
I tell you all this not to toot my own horn. (Although I guess that is the biggest effect, isn’t it?) Mostly I tell you all this because if I can actually do some good with this blog and its regular readership of my family and friends and the hundreds of porn-bot followers I have on Twitter, then imagine what you can do. You don’t need a hugely successful blog to make a difference. You don’t even need a blog at all.
My mother and mother-in-law didn’t have blogs, after all. Hell, they didn’t even have Facebook. (I know!) And they still managed to find a way to do good things for people in need. So if we all just try to be a little more like them, then we don’t even need a formal declaration. We just need to act.
On that note, let the holiday season begin.
(Image courtesy of saxon on Flickr.)