Kristine Kaiser: Have a charitable spirit at Christmas

Dec. 07, 2012 @ 11:14 PM

Some people look down on charity. Charity makes people dependent; it debases the poor. Charity makes for people who will never be able to care for themselves: alms-giving creates a permanent underclass. People become soft and unable to deal with hardship.
I disagree. Charitable giving is offering help at a time of lack.
The truth is that most of us have more than we need. We take gift lists from people whom we love.  A charitable spirit is the essence of the Christmas season. When we give to the needy, we truly celebrate the coming of our Lord. We imitate the three kings who offered gold, frankincense and myrrh to a newborn baby sleeping in a stable.  The Christ child was an unimpressive infant, without Earthly connections.
Yet, the kings put forth their best; they did not offer less. They gave gifts for royalty.
I dislike a stingy giver. I dislike one who goes through the cabinet looking for expired cans to give to the food pantry. Giving is only mean when we make it so, when we give our seconds, when we give what otherwise might go in the trash. That is charity demeaning to others.  We can look at fellow human beings as being worthy of only junk, of what has holes in it, and that that is no good. That is the cheat in giving. We do not give from love. We give what no longer appeals to us; we sort and discriminate our goods. Throwaways are our virtue.
Our spirit affects the value of charity. If we are happy givers, we are likely to find grateful recipients. Sentiments go along with the gift; the feelings behind the gift are present. Mean charity looks like mean charity; it looks like discards. Careless charity looks like a sure hodgepodge with no rhyme or reason.  Loving charity also carries a telling seal. The giver and the recipient are never fooled. Love is noticeable. We do recognize it.
Sometimes we try to imagine the recipients. We wonder about their situations. We wonder how they came to need charity. Did they buy liquor instead of food? Maybe they were unwise with their money.  It is not for us to judge the poor. It is not for us to say who deserves help. That isn’t our worry. The Gospel stops us from deciding merit.
I suggest that the spirit of Christmas is measured by how freely we give to others.
Let us honor Christ by giving. Let us worship Christ by caring for our brothers and sisters. Give until we feel the separation. Give until it is felt. Giving brings us closer to Christ. Jesus Christ loved the poor. Let us show our love through giving at a local charity.
Also, let us teach our children to give. Commercial society has created Santa Claus.
Children are asked to tell their wishes to a long-bearded man. Let our children know about the less fortunate, so that they may one day believe that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” Let children buy for others and know early on the joy of giving.
A charitable spirit is the essence of the Christmas season and the basis of a moral society.

Kristine Kaiser is a writer living in Kernersville. Contact her for comments at: Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.