Charity Christmas gifts – perfect for a society that denies itself nothing

I was thinking today about the increase in the last few years of charity gifts at Christmas. You know the thing: a goat for a family in Ethiopia; a pile of bricks for a house somewhere else… You pay the charity and the recipient you know gets a card and a warm, fuzzy glow. I think they’re brilliant, to be honest, and a really great way to encourage charitable spending and spread the word about charitable works. But…

I don’t think they’d be possible in a society where people would actually deny themselves things as the year goes by. Come birthdays and Christmas how many times do you hear ‘oh, I don’t need anything’. On the one hand this is a sign of contentment with life and worldly goods, but on the other hand do those people actually deny themselves in any way, or do they just get what they want, when they want it, without waiting for a reason? Oh, I want the latest iPod, I’ll get it. I want that CD, I’ll get it. I want that whatever, I’ll get it. Obviously, this happens within reason, but that reason is almost always cost, not an idea that maybe that item is not actually necessary right now.

Of course, I’m not suggesting I don’t do this – I have a lovely box of new pens that I really didn’t need. And maybe it’s not so bad. It’s just worth thinking on, along with the value of that sheep, that’s all.

7 Replies to “Charity Christmas gifts – perfect for a society that denies itself nothing”

  1. I’m a bit conflicted by the idea of buying a present (goat/bricks/whatever) for someone else and then telling your friend that that present is in fact a present for him/her. I like the bit where you don’t spend your money on something frivolous when there are peoople out there who could do something more constructive with your loot. But gifts are meant to be _for_ the recipient. If the recipient really wants a playstation and wouldn’t normally buy a herd of goats for someone they will never meet, then perhaps it’s not really a gift at all. Wouldn’t it be better to buy the goats and send a card to everyone you’d normally buy gifts for saying “Sorry, no gifts this year. I bought a herd of goats instead. You can do the same if you want.”

  2. I have a friend who does that with Christmas cards. She sends a Christmas email to all her friends saying something along the lines of “thinking of you all, but no cards this year. I’ve donated the card money to charity.” I really respect that.

    Some people actually _ask_ for goats, and do value them as a gift.

  3. All I want for christmas is some content for my website, oh and some new wheels for my skateboard oh and a fighting robot (preferably nuclear powered) Hmmm seems like I want rather a lot.

  4. my mother wants me home for xmas but i dont want to go. so i am going to buy 5 goats in india instead. that wil make her happy. not. she has already sent her list round by email. pah is what i say. come play in the snow and destroy the environment with me instead. then we can buy some carbon offsets. or invest in nuclear power. or indeed fighting robots.

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