#NaBloPoMo Day 28: Heartfelt Confessions on Giving Tuesday

Today is NaBloPoMo Day 28 — two more days!! — and my theme of choice is Charity.  Hop back to yesterday’s post if you feel like reading about just how charitable I was feeling towards my sister- and brother-in-law after their Thanksgiving visit.

It’s trendy these days to refer to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving weekend as Giving Tuesday.  A day where, after spending your paycheck and then some on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you’re meant to dig even deeper into your pocket and give charitably to others.  It’s a lovely idea, but my guess is that most people are feeling a little overspent by the time Giving Tuesday rolls around.

Nevertheless, Giving Tuesday has me thinking about my own approach to charity.  Over the years, I’ve struggled to develop a consistent or meaningful theory about how or when I should give to others.  Do I give to people or to organizations?  Do I give money or things?  Do I give based on perceived need or perceived desert?

I’ve never been very charitable in the past, at least not with hard cold cash.  I’ve donated here and there to my almae matres and things like the Terry Fox Run.  And after I realized it was cool to buy coffee for the person behind you in line at the Starbucks drive-thru, I also did that once.  And then as I drove away, starting to feel pretty good about myself, I suddenly thought, what the fuck?  My version of charity is to cover a $4.50 expense for someone who owns a car and can already afford their own Starbucks? Is that the best I can do?

If I have $4.50 to give, shouldn’t I be giving it to someone who really needs it? Someone who can use that money to buy themselves a meal when they wouldn’t otherwise eat?  I really should be giving the money to someone living on the street, right?

The concept of giving money to a homeless person raises very complex emotions for me though.  And no, it’s not because I question what they will buy with the money or whether they actually deserve it.  It’s because my own little brother is homeless — truly, actually, really homeless.

Even though this is an anonymous blog, I am mortified to make this confession.  Not because I am ashamed of my little brother for being homeless, but because I am ashamed of myself for having a homeless little brother.  For being a spectator and letting it happen.  It is a life-long story that I couldn’t possibly do justice to in one or two blog posts, but suffice it to say, my whole family is in agreement that my brother is beyond help.  That there’s nothing we can sanely do to rectify his situation.  But I still feel so deeply, gut-wrenchingly guilty about it.  He’s my own flesh and blood, and I’m not doing everything in my waking power to keep him off the streets.  I can’t forgive myself for it.

So maybe you can imagine how giving to others feels a little hypocritical to me.  I’m not financially supporting my own little brother, who I grew up with and love very much, but I’ll readily give some change to someone on the street that I don’t know from Adam? It doesn’t make any sense.  But at the same time, I know my brother makes his living off of those same donations from other people.  And I am eternally grateful to those who stop while passing and drop some change in his cup, because they are keeping him alive.  So maybe the person I am passing on the street is someone else’s little brother.

I don’t know what to do, which is why I spend a lot of energy trying not to think about the whole situation.  Which makes me feel even more guilty, because if I’m not going to support my little brother, surely I could at least give him the courtesy of my thoughts from time to time.  Basically, I’m a horrible person.

Until next time,

Vee

6 thoughts on “#NaBloPoMo Day 28: Heartfelt Confessions on Giving Tuesday

  1. Vee, you are most certainly not a horrible person. I’m sorry that your brother is homeless. That is so hard for everybody in your family. But ‘doing everything you can’ to make him not homeless would likely cause serious damage to your own life, and somehow I think that is not what he wants for you or your kids? I have no idea, that is just the story I tell.
    I felt a little pressure to give today. But I didn’t. I keep track of my charitable donations throughout the year, and 2017 broke some serious records. I think I have done my part, and I will continue to do so–on my own terms. I hate being told to do something just because somebody designated it as the thing to do. Nope, I can decide when and to whom I give money, thank you very much. It feels like a ploy to assuage some kind of guilt from days of mindless overspending on stuff we don’t need. So maybe the solution is to buy less stuff in general and pay more attention to those whom we can actually help with our resources?
    Thanks for sharing your stories. Write on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind reassurance. It’s hard to forgive myself for not doing more, but it certainly helps to hear nice words from other people 🙂 And congrats on a record-breaking charitable year, that is really awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am sorry that your brother is homeless. But, I have to say, I truly do not think you should be ashamed of yourself (or your brother). I appreciate that it has to be so unbelievably hard for your family to know your brother is homeless but it also take unbelievable courage to say I cannot do more to rectify his situation. And that courage and strength is admirable to say the least.
    As for me, I too struggle with how to give, and which agencies to give to. For actual people, I tend to offer food, because then I feel comfortable knowing that the money is being used in an essential way. I also choose to donate funds to our local food bank as I believe they provide a basic life necessity that everyone should have access to. That said, I skipped giving Tuesday because I give all year round and I don’t need a “day” to tell me to give.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I appreciate what you said about my family’s decision. It’s definitely not an easy one and, as I wrote, has 29 years of complicated history behind it.
      I think it’s a great idea to donate funds to a food bank, I might try that too.
      And I totally agree about giving year round vs doing something obligatory on one day a year.

      Like

  3. That must be really hard to have a homeless brother. My Father-in-law is homeless and my sister has severe mental health problems and I always feel like I’m not doing enough. It’s so hard to have family members with issues and not be able to fix them. I just have learned over the years to give support but I found that giving money did nothing to help the situation. Sending you love. This is not easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing, it’s helpful (but sad) to know there are others with family members in a similar situation. I agree with you that money doesn’t seem to help, at least not in the long term. It’s just a tough draw for everyone involved, and it definitely hurts to be on the sidelines. Hugs to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

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