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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Xmas Fires Opening Salvo

Posted Tuesday, August 5, 2008, at 7:30 AM

Aug. 2 2008. was the 214th day of the year, with 152 to follow. There would be another 94 days until we elect the next President of the United States. In only six days, the Olympics would begin in China (allowing for a two-week reprieve from 24/7 election coverage). And, it was officially the first day to receive an appeal to help some poor unfortunate next Christmas.

I may well be proved wrong, but I think this is the earliest yet appeal to give money out of some presumed "Christmas spirit."

Getting on this mailing list is mostly my own fault. A while back our granddaughters were selling magazine subscriptions for some school project. I just figured it was payback time. At the same age I'd conned my grandparents into buying stuff they didn't want to help my school. Now it was my turn to pony-up. There was one particular magazine I had wanted to read since it was first published by, among others, Billy Graham. I took one year's worth (which was not renewed).

Someone once said that if you want really fascinating mail try filling out a survey giving a personal annual income in excess of $250,000. It is amazing, though, what mail you do get when you subscribe to any particular magazine. A big part of a magazine's income is from selling "fresh leads" to like-minded purveyors. This is probably why a non-liturgical layman would be blessed with a very expensive-to-produce catalog of liturgical ropes and related items. And, why I start getting Christmas appeals on the Second day of August this year of our Lord 2008.

I know something about direct mailing, having once in my sinful youth taken a "direct" part in same. I do try to look at all of it, knowing how much it cost someone I never met to get into my hands. Also, I know it works -- if it didn't work junk mail would die in a week. And, I have every reason to believe this mailing was legitimate: It was endorsed by one of the best known names in American evangelical churches.

But, I wonder: Why exactly are we appealed to in the name of Christmas? If a need, an appeal, a human endeavor is worth doing, is it not just as worth doing in August? Also, most of the approaching onslaught of seasonal petitions will contain some appeal to "so they can have a Christmas." Are we being asked to give dessert to children who have no dinner?

In the end there will be too many appeals, and not all can be mollified. There must be some criteria by which to sort them out. I suggest two things to those who would send (and will receive) the barrage of Seasons Greetings which will now certainly explode:

First, if the only hope of support lay in the spirit of Christmas giving, it may be time to reevaluate the importance of the mission undertaken.

Second, say exactly what you are doing, and give opportunity to decide whether what you are doing is something worth personal involvement. Only then have you earned the right to ask for money.

So, is Aug. 2, the record; or is it just plain too early for "Xmas"?

David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at kayanddavid@joink.com.

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I agree completely. the poor need to eat all year long, not just at Christmas. I rarely donate to any of the groups that solicite by mail. I donate food to the food banks 2 or 3 times during the year, and to certain other groups that I feel do good work. I don't know who the solicitation was from, but I think they even beat Walmart from being the first to start the Christmas "season". Can we not even get the kids in school first?????

-- Posted by virginiagrace on Wed, Aug 6, 2008, at 5:12 AM

Charity starts at home. I don't send money to other towns, states, countries... I do enjoy helping people right here in our own little town. I've said before and I'll say again.. when we start to look to our neighbors and family and friends and think, what can I do to help them today.. and then do that... that's when things will improve. Everyone wants to change our politicians hoping it will change the life that we all live for the better somehow but in reality if we want a better life, we have to actively as humans make it happen and stop relying on some law makers who sit behind a desk to "fix" it.

I petitioned for a homeless shelter in Brazil once and I was told by many people... "we dont have a homeless problem." just because we dont see people living in boxes on the street does not mean we dont have a homeless problem, the fact that we have to send these people to other towns such as terre haute lighthouse mission, and greencastles shelter, should tell us that we do in fact have homeless here. One girl i spoke with was taken in by some poor folks. She was 90 lbs and when they took her in she was even less than that... she hadnt eaten anything at all in over a week when they took her in. These kind of stories are all over if you speak to people.. and i mean really speak to people, there are sub standard housing ran by in my humble opinion slum lords. and i dont even have to name who they are, we all know them... and while they sit in newly built houses raking in the benefits from the misery of others... nothing will be done about it because they are too influencial in this town... thats not right.. and maybe ill get hate mail for my opinions here but ill accept it. ive been out there and speaking to people and i know what they are goin through. The word from the politicians on this is where would we put them if we stopped allowing them to live in these kind of houses. Yet, we dont need a shelter?

The resident opinion on this is a lot of not in my backyard, well it's already in your backyard. Some think it will just be a house for drugs, well look around, throw a rock, there are already drug houses. we just choose not to give them a label and hope they go away.

I could go on and on with what ive encountered in this small town that im sure is in every small town, city, state. the soloution though do not rese in the hands of politicians, but each of us as ordinary people working together to make life a little bit easier for someone else and ourself. It's standing up for what you believe in and speaking out about it, educating yourself about what the reality really is rather than sweeping it away and hoping someone fixes it. It's getting your hands dirty and actively getting involved to change the life of someone, one person at a time, and by doing so, giving someone hope... I see that you are a religious man, there are so many passages in the bible in reference to exactly what i am saying.. the best one i can think of is Love thy neighbor as thyself.

-- Posted by Ninesy on Mon, Aug 11, 2008, at 10:47 AM

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