As a little kid I was lucky enough to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. Each holiday was filled with presents and good food and lasting sweet memories.
As an adult I have unfortunately adopted a bit more of a Bah Humbug attitude about this time of year.
The commercialism and pressure that looms over everything “December holidays” in the United States straight up stresses me out.
I love the family and friend gatherings, I don’t stress the extra food & booze that is always around or the disrupt to my normal routine but I do feel overwhelmed by the present thing.
I love giving and receiving the perfect, thoughtful, useful present. However, I loathe the idea that it’s best to give something to each person on your list, even if that something will inevitably end up either collecting dust or seeing the inside of a trash can soon.
Sorry! This is a bit of a side tangent and not where I intended to go with this post. (Another side note: Dear Family, do not take any of this personally, I appreciate any and all efforts at gift giving and receiving. And please don’t take it personally if my presents to you are late/kinda suck. I really am trying.)
One way I’ve decided to combat this present-buying/giving stress is to make small donations to organizations I feel passionately about for each of the 8 days of Hanukkah. In some way it makes me feel like I’m taking back the pleasure of gifting by giving exactly what someone (or rather the organization) wants and needs; money and community support.
Day 1 Cora Dance
Cora Dance is a company in Brooklyn under the direction of Shannon Hummel. Cora provides all of their programming on a Pay-What-You-Can basis, including all classes and performances. I have so much respect for their mission to make dance accessible and am totally inspired by what they do.
To my first dance teacher Beth, who just loves to share movement with anyone who will participate
Day 2 Community Investment Collaborative
Charlottesville’s CIC is a micro-lending organization that helps small, local businesses get funds, education, and support in order to be successful. I have seen first hand the great work they do for my community.
To my papa, who I have seen believe in and back people when very little was going their way
Day 3 WNRN
Our local, listener supported radio station.
To my Uncle Mikey, who was a DJ in Texas in the ’70s
Day 4 Common Ground Healing Arts
A Charlottesville healing arts center offering sliding scale yoga, massage, acupuncture, and therapy.
To my practically-sister Sadie, who is always inspiring me with her yogic ways and insights
Day 5 The Haven
The Haven is a great, multi-purpose space in an old church right downtown. The have a day shelter for homeless folks and provide breakfast most days of the week, incorporating as much local fruit, veg, meat, dairy, and grains as possible.
To my client Mary, with whom I had an interesting conversation recently about homelessness and how to give to people asking for change
Day 6 Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
The website states my $25 donation can provide 100 meals!
To the homeless men in the park, who asked “where’s the cream cheese” when I would take them free bagels in college
Day 7 Trillium Performing Arts Collective
The dance studio I grew up in and without I would be a wholly different Faith
To my big sister Yarrow, who I have always and will always idealize and who without I probably would not have kept going back to dance class all those years
Day 8 City Schoolyard Garden
This Cville program runs gardens at all 6 city elementary schools and the middle school in order to provide kids with an opportunity to get their hands dirty, learn about growing and eating fresh food, and cultivate a sense of environmental stewardship and community.
To my niece Zenya, who showed me first-hand that sharing with kids how food is grown can have such positive effects when, as a toddler, she always demanded her scrambled eggs have chard in them and she would go by herself to the garden to pick it
Happy 4th night of Hanukkah!