Menu For Hope

I am a fan of Christmas, in the eating obscene amounts of food and killing a tree to decorate my living room sense. I don’t actually like the now obligatory exchange of presents, the tearing out of hair that goes on over who to buy gifts for, and the sense of capitalism which has invaded an otherwise excellent opportunity to make a lot of food and devour it. That’s why I don’t give out (or expect) Christmas presents, because I would rather have the company of good friends than things I don’t really need.

Many people seem to have this compelling urge to buy presents anyway, because they are under the impression that this is expected of them. To that, I say piffle and tosh. There are far more important things in this world than trying to execute a carefully finessed balance of presents to show people “exactly how much you love them.” Show people you love them by dropping by and saying hello, with food.

Christmas used to be a time for charity and almsgiving—some of my older readers may remember this, or may even participate in charity. This year, my charity of choice is Menu for Hope III, which is collecting funds for the United Nations World Food Programme. I would much rather see my readers sending money to them than spending it on spoiled brats. If you need an incentive, there are a number of raffle prizes associated with it, some of which are pretty excellent.

DairyQueen of The Ethicurean is issuing a challenge to her readers: try to donate what you would otherwise spend on a meal for two, including wine (if you are a wine drinking kind of person). I’m going to up the ante a little: a nice dinner for two, not dinner at that cheap but really good Indian place. If you don’t really eat out, think about what you would spend at the Farmers’ Market, a day at the grocery store, a week at the coffeehouse. Better yet, take all the money you would have spent on presents and donate that.

Many of us take food for granted, despite the fact that there are people in our own communities who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. If you would rather think and act locally, donate money or goods to your local food bank. Winter is a really shitty time to be hungry, kiddos. Hopefully there will never be a time when any of you have to find that out for yourselves.

Menu for Hope III is being administered by Firstgiving, which sends donations on to the charity of choice. It is also possible to use corporate matching programs with Firstgiving, and you can deduct your donation, if you are into that kind of thing. The company networks fundraisers and donors in a safe environment, where you can be assured that your funds actually reach their intended destination. So go donate. Tell all your greedy friends and family that you donated the money you would have spent on their presents to people who actually, you know, needed it.

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