Hands-on Giving


I fully buy into Christmas being about giving.

As a kid, Christmas presents were a big, big deal.  My parents went over the top with Santa followed by gifts from them.  In addition, my brother and I were the only grandchildren on both sides of the family.  They ensured that any potential gaps in our want list were fully covered.

My parents also didn’t buy us anything the other 11 months of the year.  December not only brought in the toys we desired, but it also stocked us up on socks and underwear for the year, a leisure suit for church and shoes.

In November, we looked like we’d just stepped out of the play Oliver Twist.  Our pants too short, and we had holes in our drawers.    January 1, it appeared as if Daddy Warbucks was kin.  We were looking great again!

But now, I have the ability to buy what I need, when I need it.  I’m not rich, but if my tennis shoes are worn, I pretty much have the capacity to replace them winter, spring, summer or fall.  Thus, this time of year has shifted for me.  Unlike my youthful self I am appreciative, but unmotivated by what awaits me under the tree.  A coffee cup with my kid’s art on the side is more exciting to me than a Brooks Brothers’ suit.  It’s all about maturity and perspective.

I do, however, really, really want others to appreciate what I have chosen for them.  And it saddens me to think of those who aren’t able to celebrate the holiday with the same vigor as we do.

For years I have adopted a family from the YMCA’s Angel Tree.  Our organization works to help bring Christmas to thousands of underserved kids who participate in our programs.  With my busy work schedule and the play I’m in with the girls, I became overwhelmed this year.  I was stretched in so many directions.  Therefore, I made the choice to give money to my church for those in need rather than to take a name off the tree and go on a shopping spree for a specific child.

That decision hasn’t ruined the season for me, but I’ll have to say that I regret simply giving a check.  I truly miss the excitement of picking out cool stuff for someone specific.  Each year, the girls and I would get so excited about a cool pair of jeans and a hat for our unknown three-year-old boy.  Finding the Thomas the Train playset he requested filled my cup.  With no boys in my house, I was pumped to pick out little dude tennis shoes and boy toys.

I took the easy way out this year.  I checked the ”helping others’ box” on my Christmas list with absolutely no effort on my part.  And it is just not the same.

Certainly the money I give will be helpful, maybe more so.  But there is a difference in giving to fulfill a quota and being fully invested in the process.

I give checks to several nonprofits throughout the year understanding that they must have my support to do their work and don’t bat an eye.  But at Christmas, I feel compelled to do more.  I won’t make this choice next year.

Leave a comment


  1. Well, here is my list. I want my son to continue in his recovery and remain healthy in mind, body and spirit and have a place where he feels loved, accepted and worthy again. And in the town I call home. Across the street from where I grew up…at the Y, swimming, going to Y dances. Where I was always struck by the folks that lived “upstairs” and made a point to say “hello” to them. My mother still goes to work out at the Y daily when she is in town. When my boy gets home, I’d like for him to have a place where he can continue to feel loved and teach others about the love and grace of Christ and help those,who might think about making poor choices, to understand the short- and long-term consequences of those decisions. He needs a few good men (in addition to his wonderful father) to reinforce the notion that he matters. He can lead, tutor, teach someone to swim, talk about the impact of social media, the dangers of what his generation is being taught and legalizing & the risks of not standing firm at a young age and following others. He is working very hard to reclaim his body, engage his mind without all the noise of social media, develop a sense of feeling worthy and find productive ways to deal with anxiety, depression, stress and the pressures of being a teenager. That’s what’s on my list. That’s it. He won’t be home for a Christmas, but when he returns, he wants to give back. He just needs a little guidance, love and a goal. Once his boat is pointed in the right direction and the wind in his sail picks up, there is no stopping him. Promise. Love, G’s Mom

  2. CBHall

     /  December 14, 2016

    hi Danny,
    I certainly get what you’re saying about writing a check versus going out shopping for someone who was “adopted”/picked off an angel tree. Somehow, it’s “funner” (to me, anyway) to shop for someone who has little or nothing rather than…ahem…someone who has plenty but is always looking for more. And hey, I appreciate the time and effort you/your family put into performing in “Christmas Carol”…surely that’s a form of giving to others. I guess it gets easier the more times you do it but I’m still amazed at how demanding it must be to rehearse/perform and still do schoolwork/take care of jobs/get ready for Christmas, etc. I recognized you, Lucy, and Aunt Sallie…couldn’t spot Annie and your little niece. Hope Santa is good to all the Tanners! Merry Christmas!

    • Danny Tanner

       /  December 17, 2016

      The niece was dressed as a boy – hard to spot! Thanks for coming to the show. It is a lot but so much fun!

  3. Kathy S,

     /  December 15, 2016

    I am in the same spot as you this year, I failed to take a name off the giving tree and I miss the fun of fulfilling a wish list of a child in need. I will change that next year! Have a Merry Christmas!

  4. I still think it’s wonderful to show by leading that giving is so important when you can this time of year. I can understand feeling not fully invested with not hand-picking the items but I hope you and yours still have a Merry Christmas!


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