We’re now in that part of our year when the days keep getting shorter, the nights keep getting colder, and the skies are almost always falling in that wet and dreary way we know so well. So we cope. We mostly move indoors, where we can stay dry, find warmth, and extend the day with artificial lighting. And indoors isn’t hard time or confinement, we can find solitary pleasures such as books, music, or simply daydreaming, and we may find pleasure in the closer proximity of others. This is when we often turn toward each other, enjoying the company, and busying ourselves with shared activities appropriate to the season.
In our culture, the several months that end each calendar year tend to be filled with activities associated with three major holidays or holiday periods: Thanksgiving, the overlapping Hanukkah/Solstice/Christmas/Kwanzaa holiday cluster, and the New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day transition. While these are distinctly separate celebrations of historic, religious, cultural, or calendar events and ideals, a common characteristic underlies them all; it is generosity and sharing that give thematic shape to the season.
Thanksgiving is about celebrating and sharing the abundance of a bountiful harvest. The Hanukkah/Solstice/Christmas/Kwanzaa cluster is a calendar period rather than a common celebration, but the gifting of Hanukkah gelt and the gift-giving of Christmas and Kwanzaa are popular (and commercially encouraged) expressions of generosity between individuals (and particularly between parents or grandparents and children). New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day may seem to be primarily about parties and football games, but the year-end is also a traditional time for significant giving to charities (with IRS encouragement).
The Cedars congregation, inspired by its Social Action Committee, has a wonderful history of giving to causes beyond the support of its own needs that is clearly continuing this year.
- On the last Sunday of every month, we give the offering to an external cause.
- Responding to a special request in September, members and friends of Cedars contributed more than $6,500 to Haiti’s Hospital Albert Schweitzer (an ongoing multi-year project of the committee).
- Our Thanksgiving week food drive for Helpline (Bainbridge) and Fishline (North Kitsap) food banks was clearly successful (as pictured below).
- Our Alternative Gift Project (cedarsuuchurch.org/agp) is now underway, providing an annual gift-giving alternative to our culture’s often excessive and wasteful holiday gifting tradition. This popular ten-year-old activity has now contributed more than $100,000 to various charities around the globe.
Year-end contributions by individuals, of course, are discretionary actions that have nothing to do with Cedars or its programs. But I would personally like to suggest that you consider the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), and Cedars itself as worthy recipients for year-end generosity.
Together, here at Cedars, we make the world a better place.