Washington Examiner | By: Beth Bailey
In 2018, people of different political stripes were at each other’s throats over everything from the Central American caravans to ballot counting to the number of acceptable genders, and yet the National Retail Federation expects Americans to spend between $717.5 billion and $720.9 billionon retail sales this holiday season.
Because what says “Sorry I called you a feckless idiot on Facebook” better than an air fryer? Well … a lot, actually.
Though activism has been on the rise in reaction to President Trump’s election, it has not affected America’s holiday spending habits. That is unfortunate, because at home, not far from the fluorescent glow of the big box department stores, Americans are in need. Overseas, and especially in third-world and war-ravaged countries, people live every day with the kind of poverty and violence that Americans can hardly imagine.
This holiday season, we should consider using our immense blessings to turn in to, rather than away from, the hurt that surrounds us by giving gifts that really give back. Not only could we make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate, but we could also reaffirm our love for our friends and family, particularly those with whom we have political differences, by supporting causes that matter to them.
Our options for meaningful gifting are plentiful, with numerous charitable organizations fundraising by selling unique products. Bravelets, for example, makes stylish, simple “cause jewelry,” that reminds the wearer to “Be Brave.” Proceeds from sales go to organizations that support suicide prevention, mental health awareness, cancer awareness, military support, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, among others.
Pre-emptive Love has a marketplace with a variety of beautiful products made by refugees in Syria and Iraq, whom the organization provides healthcare and food as they come out from, and rebuild after, living under Islamic State rule. Heifer International likewise sells handmade goods that benefit those worldwide whom they lift up with their gifts of livestock and education.
Still a more radical way to give back is to simply donate funds in the names of those we love. Think of the possibilities for repairing relations with loved ones with whom we have serious political differences if we demonstrated through our gifting that we have common ground, and believe in the same causes.
Do you have a friend or relative who is an avowed feminist, or proud to proclaim herself a “Nasty Woman?” Give a gift in her name to one of the plethora of international women’s empowerment groups, such as Girls Not Brides, Girl Forward, or CARE, that provide opportunities for women who do not share the great advantages American women have at home.
Is your family member a veteran, or a staunch supporter of American service members? You could give to Operation Ward 57, which supports wounded veterans and their family members, or to the Wounded Warrior Project, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, or Dogs on Deployment.
Is your relative an animal lover? A donation to the ASPCA, the World Wildlife Fund, or their favorite local pet rescue is a great option. Does your friend love to serve their community? Donate to the cause they volunteer for, to their local homeless shelter or soup kitchen, or to No Kid Hungry, or End Hunger in America.
Is your loved one the parent of a child blessed with good health? Give to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and alleviate some of the suffering of parents whose children are not so lucky.
Your gift does not have to be extravagant to be meaningful. Any donation will tell the recipient that you honor their beliefs and support the causes they stand for. Best of all, it can provide a jumping off point to repair a shaky relationship, and help you move forward with common ground.
Although the political fisticuffs of the past two years have done little to alter the frenzy of frivolous spending that marks the holiday season, this year we can choose to give hope alongside our usual tokens and trinkets. It will be a powerful gift to come together over our own incredible blessings, and pay them forward to those whose need is greater than our own.
Beth Bailey (@BWBailey85) is a freelance writer from the Detroit area.