A Charitable Tradition

During the holidays, there is naturally a lot of talk of gifts and giving in our household. Kate and I also talk a good deal about the traditions we grew up with as kids and which ones we want our family to continue. We also talk about creating new traditions that are unique to our growing family. Well, unique in the sense that neither Kate or I grew up with them.

Last year we decided that it was important to include charitable giving into our holiday rituals. There are so many good charitable organizations out there, and we just can’t afford to give all the money that we would like to all of them (no, becoming a platinum member of the Hokie Club does not qualify as “charity”). So we decided to do a charitable lottery, of sorts.

Before Christmas day, each person in our family gives some thought to the charities to which they would like to donate. On Christmas morning, before any gifts are opened, we write down the names of the charities, put them in a hat, and each person gets to pull out one charity. We then send a donation to each charity that gets pulled. Once a charity has been selected, they are omitted from the drawing the next year.

In addition to being a fun tradition (everybody gets to kind of “root” for their charities to get picked), it’s also an attempt to mitigate the three ring circus that Christmas has become. I won’t be so hypocritical as to say we don’t enjoy giving and receiving gifts, but I want to try to help my kids understand that there are folks who need gifts that are so much more important than a Wii. Or a bicycle. Or a book.

I don’t mean this to be a “look at us we’re so great” post. Please don’t, because we certainly aren’t. I mainly wanted to ask for additional ideas for charitable giving. Anything is up for grabs. Get creative. List your favorite charity in the comments, and they just might make it into this year’s hat. I’ll get the ball rolling with our three charities from last year, and those that are in the hat so far this year.

2006 Winners:

2007 “Nominees” so far: