“Greed is not a financial issue. It’s a heart issue.”
– Andy Stanley
Christmastime is here, ya’ll! The time of love and friendship and family and happiness and….greed. Wait, did she just say greed?
Why, yes. Yes, she did.
[Now, bear with me here, folks.. This isn’t going to be a Debbie Downer post. I promise. There’s a method to my madness. Sometimes.]
As much as I’d love to think that life is all sunshine and rainbows, sometimes…well, sometimes it’s just not. And there’s something about Christmastime that brings out that horrid green-eyed monster of greed. (Yes, I know “green-eyed monster” is supposed to refer to jealousy, but I couldn’t think of a better analogy so I stole that one. I mean, green = money, right? I think it works better here anyway. So there.)
Think about it: it’s all about spending, spending, spending this time of year. And while, yes, you may be spending money on others, look at what it takes to do it. Black Friday – the notorious day of doom. Trampled customers, fist fights over a food processor or a $99 TV or whatever, miserable store employees getting yelled at by miserable customers. And on, and on, and on.
And aside from the shopping, you see greed in family life as well. Divorced families arguing over where the kids are during which times. Different sides competing over the prime Christmastime slots with the young’uns. Oh yeah, the monster definitely comes out in divorced families with kids during the holidays. Heck, I’ve even recently seen a very financially well-off ex-wife decide that Christmas is a good time to decide to spring a custody/child support suit on the not-so-well-off, devoted father of her children. That’ll teach him, right? Revenge. Greed.
I’m telling you, people, it’s enough to make your skin crawl.
I was standing in a gas station the other day during my lunch break from work contemplating which fountain soda I wanted to pollute my body with this time, and which size cup of pollution I was going to spring for, when the concept of greed presented itself to me in full force. After choosing the biggest cup I could find, I put just a bit of ice in the cup (hey, can’t take up room in the cup with ice…sheesh…) and proceeded to fill the cup up to the tippy top rim so I could acquire the absolute biggest bang for my buck. Then, after a cat-and-mouse game of finally finding the right lid for said cup, I sat the cup down on the counter and went to snap the lid down. And…..guess what happened? The cup was too full (of my greed) and the lid caused the syrupy, toxic liquid to spill out over the top. All over my hands, my shirt, the counter, the floor…you name it, Coke was on it.
(And you can bet that lazy, green-eyed monster didn’t stick around to help me clean that crap up either.)
Because of my wanting just absolutely as much as I could get, my greed spilled over onto me and caused a huge mess that I was left to clean up alone. And something tells me that concept is not only going to apply to fountain drinks…you catch my drift?
So, there I was back at work after my lunch break, covered in sticky Coke remnants, when I logged onto Facebook to see if anyone else was having as crappy a day as I was. (Misery loves company, ya know.) And that’s when I saw the post that stopped me right in my tracks. It was a “group post,” meaning that I didn’t know the person from Adam but it showed up in my newsfeed since I was part of the group, and it said simply this: “I am afraid I can’t buy my four kids anything at Christmas.”
She went on to explain that she had thought she was going to be able to cover it, but with Christmas just around the corner, it was looking like she wasn’t going to be able to pull it together. Four kids, a single mom, and no money.
My greedy Coke spill quickly because a distant memory as my thoughts immediately went to this woman and Christmastime. What was she going to do? I empathized with her situation. I too know that feeling…I’ve been there many times myself. But somehow, with the help of family and friends, Christmas always managed to be a success for my own kids in the end. We have been very lucky. Very blessed. But I know too well that “momma” feeling of worry and stress over your kids at Christmas. And what if this woman didn’t have family to pitch in to help like I always did? What if she really truly was alone and had no way of providing a Christmas for those four eager, expecting kids?
I just had to do something. I just HAD to.
That’s when the emails started. Emails between myself and this mother (finding out clothes sizes, Christmas list wishes, etc) and emails reaching out to people in the community for help. I posted on Facebook, made some phone calls to local organizations, got some help from the women’s group at the church I attend, and….within hours (HOURS, people)…I had an army of people ready to help this mom.
Now, this was only four days ago, mind you. Four short days ago. And as of this moment, Richard and I are going to have to take his truck to be able to fit everything to deliver to this woman tomorrow. For a few days out of this Christmas season, greed was completely forgotten. All around the county (and even surrounding counties thanks to some of my non-local friends), people dropped what they were doing and went out and Christmas shopped for children they had never met in their lives and, frankly, that they probably never would.
In a communication yesterday with this mom, she made this statement, “I just can’t believe this is real.” And you know what? I have to say I agree. That hardhearted, pessimistic woman who stood at that drink fountain cleaning up Coke and thinking about all the greed surrounding her this time of year (including her own) was no more. Now, here she is…not believing that this is actually real. Not believing that a plea for help from one slightly jaded, disgruntled, Coke-covered grinch has managed to turn itself into a crusade. A mission. A swelling of love and generosity that will be soon be turning into a beautiful, happy Christmas in one little mountain home in North Carolina, filled with four smiling faces and one very, very grateful and relieved mom.
Wow. (Have I said, “Wow” yet?)
So, am I changed by this? Oh, you can bet I am. Like you wouldn’t believe. Does greed still exist in this world? Well, of course it does. But from now on, I am going to do my very best to practice a different kind of greed in my own life. From now on I am going to be greedy for things that aren’t things. I am going to start being greedy for human kindness. Greedy for compassion. Greedy for love. I’m going to soak up as much of it as I can. And then do you know what I’m going to do?
I’m going to come back here and I’m going to tell you about it. And I want you to do the same. Let’s start sharing the good stories, shall we?
Get out there and be greedy, my friends.