I’m putting my foot down. I’m tired of people giving to a charity in someone else’s name in lieu of a holiday gift. It’s so damn smug, like we benighted souls would never think of giving if these saints didn’t light the way with their powerful sunbeams of goodness. Naturally, these gifts are never to our favorite charities, but to the givers’ pet charities. So isn’t that all about the giver (who also gets the tax write-off) rather than the recipient? Note to all potential gift givers: Give me some smelly soap, a $10 bottle of wine, drugstore chocolates, a 2009 calendar with pictures of kittehs playing, or nothing — I don’t care as long as you give me a break from your self-righteousness.
If you insist on giving to a charity in my name, make it one of those that I really care about: the Committee to Protect Journalists, Donors Choose, Minds Matter Inc. of NYC, the Young Survival Coalition, the ASPCA or the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund. (Another non-profit that would truly appreciate your business is Wendy Brandes Jewelry.) Don’t be like a company for which I used to work that sent out a note every year saying it was donating an unspecified sum to an unspecified children’s charity in lieu of throwing us a holiday party. While we employees were getting wasted on our self-purchased holiday beers, we decided that the “children’s charity” was really the “executives’ childrens’ college fund.” We were totally unimpressed that this act of unspecified philanthropy came at the expense of free beer for employees. Similarly, if you need help getting into the heaven that I don’t believe in, don’t do it at the expense of my 2009 kitteh calendar. Kthxbai.