Last night was the first night of Chanukah, the holiday we celebrate in our home. My big girl was so excited to light her own menorah this year and eat gelt, those impossibly wrapped chocolate coins of drugstore grade chocolate. But, of course, the major excitement was all about the gifts. I wish I could bottle up my girls’ glee at the sight of their presents. I remember being a kid, I can recall that feeling well—the buzzy thrill of gift wrapped possibility. They deserve gifts and I want them so much to have that festive feeling of a Chanukah filled with potato pancakes and new toys.
But this year, more than ever before, I want to give my girls an equal sense of the importance of giving. We have set aside one night of Chanukah to give to a charity of their choice. So last night, we began a discussion about the issues they care about. My eight-year old listed animals, sick children and the homeless. My two year old just said “Mommy,” which was actually quite perfect, since one of my favorite non-profits is Every Mother Counts, Christy Burlington-Burns’ organization that helps make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women around the world.
To be honest, I was conflicted about writing this post because somewhere along the way I was told that the highest form of charity is anonymous. And I don’t really have the voice of an activist, so giving money or my time in a private way has always suited me. However, the state of the world has caused a shift in me. I feel so strongly that, in the face of a world pregnant with feelings of imminent disaster, we must make grand gestures of giving and support. Maybe, instead of violence, people can copycat compassion.
I wish you all a wonderful holiday season, filled with love and light, however and wherever you celebrate.
Here are a list of some of my favorite causes that accept donations: