Though I’m far from religious, I’ve always liked the Christmas season, because it’s the time of year when people are often their most generous.  Every December I love picking out toys or books for those Toys-for-Tots programs and buying a couple extra cans or boxes at the grocery store to later place in food drive bins.  I know these tiny acts aren’t going to change much, though, and I know I should be charitable all year round.  That is what’s bad about Christmas season–it’s seasonal.  Temporary.  For less than four weeks, we smile at strange men in red suits and beards, give change to people on the street (only if they’re ringing bells, though–somehow that legitimizes panhandling), and sing along to what are objectively very silly songs.  (I’ve witnessed a businessman in a suit hum along to ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ with no sign of embarrassment.)  Why can’t that last longer?

Why can’t I give books to kids whose parents can’t afford them in April or July? Why do we save our generosity for this brief dark stretch of winter? It’s still going to be cold in January or February–colder, even.  People will still be looking for a warm place to stay the night, especially after so many have faced foreclosures and evictions this year.  There aren’t many stables around these days, and no Magi showing up with frankincense and myrrh, whatever the hell those are.  Who’s going to help them when Christmas has come and gone?