Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Tradition

Wow. When we hit it, we hit it. We were having our regular 12/21 feast, which is the time we reserve for each other each year, getting grounded, connecting and celebrating sanely before launching into the chaos of the season, and something wonderful occurred to us. We had just sold our beloved 1996 Subaru Outback to a certified mechanic, who is happy, happy to have it, and there were the proceeds of the sale to address. We had planned to donate the vehicle somewhere, but a purchaser who was in need and eager to have it just about dropped into our laps. So, why not donate the proceeds instead? We are comfortable financially (for now) and though it would be a great use for the money. Part of the reason we sold the car was to live more simply and more lightly on the planet. The idea of having the gesture payoff twice was too great to resist! So, the beneficiaries are:

The Raptor Center
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
an as-yet undetermined cat-rescue charity
Range Women's Advocacy
Second Harvest
Friends of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Heifer International
White Earth Land Recovery Project
Visitation Monastery - Minneapolis
Tree Council of Ireland
Emily Sampson Rodgers Scholarship Endowment at the UofM

We have other charities we give to this time of year as well, among them:

Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota
Hopi Education Endowment Fund
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Twin Cities Public Television
Minnesota Public Radio
American Diabetes Association
Susan K. Kommen Foundation
Angioma Alliance
American Diabetes Association

But I have to say, that having a fabulous Restaurant Alma repast, while thinking about things that matter to us, and doing it together was one of the most fun things we've ever done. It felt like we had won the lottery. You know, those conversations you have sometimes about, "If you won the lottery tonight, what would you do with the money?" For us right now, the answer would be to buy a house, since we are renting, provide for a reasonable retirement, fund our nieces' and nephews' college educations. After that, we would have a blast giving it away.

Of the many things for which I can thank my parents, the charitable impulse is a major one. When I was a kid, I got three dimes for my allowance - one dime went to the church, one went to the bank and one went to us to save or spend. I'd scour the sidewalks for a penny, and with the .11 buy a package of Twinkies.

Then, my Mom got me going in candystriping at the local children's hospital, and I've always done some kind of volunteer work ever since. Sometimes, it's been what saved me from succumbing to chronic depression. But mostly, volunteering provides a way to apply abilities I don't use in my work-life and helps to justify my taking up space, resources and time in the world.

Life is good for us, and I am grateful.

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