Thursday, December 29, 2005

'Tis better to give than to receive

A few days before Christmas, a member of our ward brought us a Christmas basket from the ward. Actually, it was a box, but doesn't a Christmas basket sound much nicer? And it was nice. There were a couple of bottles of sparkling apple cider, some fruit, some candy and snacks, and a $50 gift certificate to a grocery/department store. No doubt, the brother who brought it to us and his young son went home feeling very happy and full of Christmas spirit. Perhaps sometime they will even, as I've heard others do, bear testimony of the joy of giving and the wonderful spirit they felt.

How did I feel? Humiliated. Angry. Sad. I didn't ask to be anyone's charity case. I didn't ask to be on my ward's poor list. I didn't work hard all year, make more money at my business than I've ever made, finally leave the Federal Poverty Level well behind, and begin to feel good again about how I provide for my family just so my ward can come along and shove their charity in my face. Just so they can say, "Don't start to feel too good yet kuri, because as far as we're concerned, you're still poor. You're still on our charity list." Just so I can be reminded of all the things we don't have instead of all the things we do. Just so I can see the disappointment in my wife's eyes. Just so I can be undermined in front of my children. Just so my church leaders can feel good about themselves and happy and complacent about how they brought some Christmas cheer to the poor people.

So yeah, Merry Christmas, Bishop. Merry Christmas, EQ Prez. Merry Christmas, ward. Next year, just leave me alone.

4 comments:

  1. I wonder how many of us have been in that same place? I know exactly how you feel. For me, last year when Bob was in and out of the hospital with his 4 surgeries, it was a helpless and hopeless feeling to have to accept the cherity of the branch. ...We had insurance but the medical bills were so high that our 20% was overwhelming. I never ask for the help, but our EQ President knew about the situation and he told the Branch President that we needed the help.
    Yes...it does have a smart sting to it when you're desperately in need, I imagine it is much worse when you're getting back on your feet.

    Sheila

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  2. You could give the $50 gift certificate to someone else who really does need it...like me...I'll email you my address (just kidding).

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  3. What I feel here, kuri, is extremely sad. I have never seen you so judgemental before, nor have I experienced you trying to read someone's heart.

    I have learned that it is really only those who are selfish and want the praise condemn others for the same without evidence.

    I hope you can rethink your reaction if not for your sake, for that of your children.

    Scott

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  4. Are only poor people entitled to get gifts, then? How ridiculous.

    I've received "charity" from various ward organizations on several occasions. The first time I received something, my husband was making well over median income for our area. We weren't poor. It was a seasonal opportunity, there was a surplus of items to give away, and they really needed people to give to. We weren't poor, but we were scrimping to buy a house. We needed to buy a little less that year.

    Why do you assume that they give you stuff out of pity? Maybe they were inspired to give you the gifts so that you could celebrate the fantastic year you just had. The basket contents sound like ingredients for a party, to me.

    I do know this. A few years back, when my husband was newly out of work, the Relief Society President asked me to come to the Bishop's Christmas Store. I told her we didn't need help at Christmas; my in-laws always gave us far too many presents. She begged me to come, saying that I could at least get some stocking stuffers or something. So I did. It turned out that I was the only one from our ward who had accepted her invitation. There were at least six familes with no income in our ward, many of them with children; and one of them, one I was close to, was running perilously low on funds. Yet they wouldn't accept charity because it was too demeaning. The tables were piled with donations, and there were precious few of us from the stake who were willing to accept them.

    I think there are a lot of people out there who need to lighten up and learn to receive graciously. That includes you.

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