Proving we’re still alive

Hello, blogosphere.

Chrissy’s post about the election was beautiful. I don’t want to knock it off the top, but it seems that a month is far longer than a blog should have to go without a post. So allow me to engage you in a post-Thanksgiving post.

I admit, my ears are not as attuned to such things as they should be, but I didn’t really hear any fatphobic comments this Thanksgiving season, from my family. Which is an improvement. I heard some “health-conscious” ones, but my grandmother is diabetic, so I was less concerned than I might otherwise have been.

I did hear racist remarks. My cousin (she’s maybe a sophomore in high school) used the n-word.

I did hear sexist remarks. What else is new, really?

By and large, my holidays were alright, and I didn’t get too upset about anything, except my stepmother’s refusal to acknowledge the abusive relationship that is Twilight.

They were alright, that is, until yesterday, when I read about the Wal-Mart worker who was trampled. Again, I come face-to-face with the consumerism that I’ve learned to dread. My families are asking for Christmas lists. I don’t know what to tell them. I don’t really need anything. I have more “stuff” than I know what to do with. Yet they seem disappointed if they can’t put more material goods into my life. I don’t understand it. If there were something I needed, sure, go for it. All I really need is money for food.

I am planning to go the route of asking would-be gift-givers to donate money to charities instead. I don’t expect good reactions to that. I think I’ll get eye rolls and gift cards, instead. What is wrong, I wonder, with asking someone to donate to a charity? It’s what I spend my money on anyway.

It’s not like they listen when I tell them what I do want. Last year I specifically requested that they NOT purchase any Bath & Body Works items – it takes me ages to use them up and I get really sick of the heavy scents. I prefer unscented toiletries, if any at all (I only keep lotion around for emergencies; with my short hair I only need a simple shampoo, and am thinking of switching to the baking soda/vinegar routine; bar soap does it for me; etc.), yet my stocking ended up full of B&BW products. Which, after hanging onto for long enough to be sure I wouldn’t use them, ended up at Goodwill, unopened. I hate that I feel guilty about that.

I have so much. So much to be thankful for. I just want to stop spending it on me – on someone who has pretty much everything she needs – and start spending it on those who hunger and thirst and then die for lack of food and water. If I could take all the money in the entire USA that will be spent on useless junk this holiday season, it would be a lot of money. I would use it to help fund the hospitals that are sewing together the pieces of the women in the Congo who are being raped ceaselessly as a strategy of war. No longer would they have to crouch in a dirty warehouse, urine dribbling out of their bodies because their fistulas prevent them from keeping it inside. I would buy doctors and water and sanitation and a modicum of peace for those women and girls who have guns fired inside their vaginas.

I don’t need stuff. I am eternally thankful for that. All I want for Christmas is the same for others.

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7 thoughts on “Proving we’re still alive

  1. People like to give personal gifts. I have to admit I’d rather give to my choice of charities or to specific people, rather than the causes that even other beloved people do.

    Since you have enough stuff, I’d ask for letters; specifically for memories of the family history. Or copies of photographs with labels and explainations attatched. I’ve also asked for a calendar with all the significant family dates (birthdays, anniverseries, etc.) on it. Or you can ask for help with sorting through your stuff, or suchlike. Maybe a trip to the zoo?

  2. I’ve always been a fan of the Heifer Project (http://www.heifer.org/). You can give a flock of chicks for $20 (both cute AND affordable!). From what I remember giving heifer stuff in the past they even give you a nice little card to give the person saying what you gave them.

    In my imaginary life where I am a rich and famous experimental filmmaker and not a poor college student that’s what I ask for.

  3. Also! Since you seemed interested in the crisis in the Congo. I forgot my mom got me some nice pajama pants and skirt from the Healing Arts (http://www.healingartsafrica.com/) which sells “item[s] hand made by one of the ladies who are either waiting for or recovering from fistula surgery at HEAL Africa in Goma, DRC.”

    I’m not sure if the Glamour article mentions them or not, I haven’t gotten through the whole thing yet. But it’s a way that if someone feels they *must* get you something, at least it helps those women.

  4. Thanks so much for all the suggestions, folks! I am especially intrigued by the Healing Arts site, as it seems it would let my family get the kicks they apparently need from giving me something tangible while also supporting something I actually care about.

  5. I like the charity idea as well. And if your family ends up getting you gift cards anyway, you can actually give THOSE to local homeless shelters and food banks and whatnot. They’d love to have them, I’m sure.

  6. I know I’m late, but my grandparents actually gave everyone in the family “charity gifts” this year. We each got a small packet of chocolate covered nuts, and something cool that was bought on our behalf for a charity, like a goat, or clean drinking water, or human rights.

    We didn’t ask for these things, but everyone thought they were the best presents ever. None of us really need anything, or can even think of things to ask for, so it was really nice for that money to do something useful for a change, instead of just getting something that would sit in a cupboard and collect dust.

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