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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Only Connect

Those are the elegant words of E.M. Forster. And those are also the words I penned on twenty five handmade pre-holiday cards with instructions that each holiday gift should be handmade so that my now ex-inlaw family members (big surprise there) could really connect with each other instead of sending each other ill-fitting green sweaters from Robinsons-May or lame, doily-Hollie-Hobbie-type detritus or more Thomas Kincade coasters. Oh the hubris of a twenty-five year old. Guess what I got for Chanukah?

Every year, we agonize about what to get each other for the holidays. We whip out our credit cards and get online, or worse – oh god, far worse – head to the mall and race from store to store as our blood pressure mounts, throwing things in our baskets knowing in advance that the recipient probably does not need the cranberry-molasses-lemongrass bathsoap and body lotion.

What do you buy for a privileged American who quite honestly has it all? Or conversely, when you think about it – is there anything you truly need that you don’t already have? Is there anything you truly want that you’re not already planning on buying yourself – in the right size, of the right color and brand? Nine times out of ten the answer is no and no.

In the December edition of the Whole Life Times, Lucinda Michele Knapp wrote a piece appropriately titled More Love, Less Stuff and hilariously subtitled: Stop it. Stop it right now. Stop wrapping that crap.

And it got me to thinking about Only connect once more – the earth is warming up faster than a bun in the oven, a meteor is no doubt on a crash course with our planet as I write this, there’s a writer’s strike, the war in Iraq is still gasping hot metal and the only salient question seems to be whether Hilary and Obama will cancel each other out and net us another Republican.

What alternatives are there, really but to live in the now and give gifts that hit the ground running. Here are some of Knapp's suggestions:

The Heifer Project is an organization that distributes livestock to families in developing nations. You can donate through your contribution anything from honeybees to goats, chicken, oxen or cows. The Wave-inatrix has personally done this before, having "purchased" some chickens and contributed to half a goat.

Oxfam America is in the business of doing about the same thing.

Or how about Greendimes, an organization that reduces your junk mail with a Junk Mail Reduction Kit and for every kit you buy, funds the planting of ten trees.

Modest Needs is a charity that with your donations helps families in need deal with emergency situations like an unexpected doctor bill, a huge winter heating bill or a car breakdown that would otherwise put them in crisis. I dare you to look at this website and not plunge your hand into your wallet to pull out a few bucks for a family, for example, who has written that they are in crisis over their heating bill. This is a serious, suck-in-the-breath, geez, how did I blow $100 and not even know it the other day at the Grove when this family can't pay their heating bill?

Kiva sponsors small businesses in the developing world dig their way out of being one of the working poor.

And because seriousness is not my strong suit, sharpen your pencils, Wavers, because here's what the Wave-inatrix wants for Christmas. Only 15 shopping days left!

1) An end to the strike

2) The horrible, evil person who used to have my phone number to just pay their credit card bill already before I have to go to the call center, kick ass and take names.

3) Paris Hilton to take a vow of silence and go to a convent far, far away and never be heard from again except as an obscure but super interesting obituary that one would remark upon quietly in one's old age.

4) For Christian Bale to be nominated for his performance in 3:10 to Yuma.

5) Personal chef.

6) Three words: Ice cream Party

7) A new car. One of those hybrids. But cute.

7a) Okay, a pony. I'll take a pony.

8) An end to the strike

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Sanjiv said...

GreenDimes here,

Thanks for the mention. We really appreciate it.

Julie Gray said...

Hi GreenDimes! You guys rock! And you especially rock if you're reading the Rouge Wave!! Keep up the good work and send us updates!