This post comes courtesy of Sherry, our Customer Service Director, who was so moved by her mother’s generosity that she decided to contribute a post about it:
Chanukah is my mother’s thing. Okay, maybe not Chanukah, per se, but shopping. She starts her Chanukah shopping the day after Christmas, when things go on sale, and then she squirrels them away in a closet until the following winter. After all, she loves shopping so much (and only sale shopping), she makes it a point to buy 8 Chanukah presents for each of us – my dad, my brother, his wife, his daughter, my husband, each of my daughters, and me. That makes 64 presents in all. While we try to convince her that her largess is unnecessary, my dad says to leave her alone – she’s happy, she’s leaving him alone, and it doesn’t matter what we say – she’s going to do it anyway.
While my mother loves to shop, she is also extremely thoughtful and kind. About six years ago, she had a brilliant idea. One of the presents she gives my girls each year is a poem she wrote called “Tzedakah” (Hebrew for “charity”). The poem reads:
“You have so many things, my dear
While others live in want and fear
So here’s a gift to give away
To brighten someone else’s day.
Please go out and choose a toy
For some poor little girl or boy.
Your loving heart will show you care
When your good fortune you can share.”
Along with the poem, she gives each girl $15 in cash with which to shop for charitable gifts. Since my older daughter Halley was a little girl, we would take her and her $15 to Toys ‘R Us. She would carefully walk through the aisles, searching for the perfect gifts. Halley made a point of looking for things that were on sale so she could buy more than one item. She would also look for things for both boys and girls, and across age ranges. If she found she had change after paying, she would go back into the aisles and buy one more Matchbox car, or whatever she could, so as not to “cheat” the recipient children. Very unlike her little sister Abigail, who always found one item that she thought was really cool and dropped her $15 on that. Over the years, we have begun matching the amount the kids get from Grandma & Grandpa, and now they even take money out of their piggy banks so they have more to spend.
This year, with the economy as challenging as it is, we thought we should spend our Tzedakah money on food for the local food pantry. Abigail, now eight, said, “After all, Mom, food is a necessity. Toys are not.” And while Halley agrees, she still thinks it is very important to bring smiles to children’s faces. So I think this year we will be doing some of each – food to nourish the body, and toys to nourish the joyous souls of children.
One of my favorite tenets of Judaism is the concept of Tikkun Olam, or “Repairing the World.” This concept states that it is the responsibility of every Jew to help make the world a better place. While I’m not sure my mother ever considered her Tzedakah gift an act of Tikkun Olam, I certainly do. My girls, through the generosity of their grandparents and themselves, are making the world a better place – one child, one gift, and one Chanukah at a time. And nothing makes me prouder.
In that spirit, I wish you a Chanukah that will not only bring you all the goodness you deserve but will also restore some goodness to the world. Best, Sherry