Charities send me stuff.
I am not sure why – but it concerns me.
What do they know that I do not?
Mostly, they just send labels. Wads of them. Every time I go to the mailbox before Christmas, I return with envelops bulging with address stickers and gift labels – and they all go into the junk drawer.
But sure enough, whenever I am in need of a mailing label, I can’t find one.
All I can find in the junk-drawer is dead batteries and a whole lot of stuff that I cannot identify.
I tell this to my wife, who informs me that I am looking in the wrong junk-drawer.
“Check the one in the desk,” she says.
And there I hit the mother lode of mailing labels. This little wooden drawer in my wife’s desk is without a doubt the fountain from which flows all of the mailing labels, gift-tags and envelop seals for the entire world. It is that chuck full.
We have address labels for the house we lived in before we lived in the house that we lived in before we moved here – and we have stickers for all the previous owners of all those houses.
We have mailing labels listing my wife’s maiden name, labels with my last name spelled incorrectly, labels with the wrong first name for both of us and labels for people we don’t know.
We have labels addressed to our children, labels addressed our parents and one charity for pets sends labels to Scooter.
“Why don’t we just throw them away?” I ask.
“No, ” she says, “we can’t do that.”
“Not even the mailing labels for our old addresses?”
She thinks about this for a while.
“Okay, but don’t get too carried away,” she warns, “we still might send out Christmas cards this year.”
It’s too late for that but I understand her reluctance. These tokens were sown into our mailbox as seeds of guilt
They were put there to remind us that we have so much and others have so little and since the charity sent us something, we should send them something too.
Well, I will tell you…
I have nothing against contributing to charities. Goodness no. But all too often it is like feeding crackers to sea gulls. It is a selfless act of kindness that within seconds draws the entire flock – then other flocks attracted by the flurry of activity come cawing your way and they want their share too.
My parents fell victim to this.
They were generous people who gave what little they could and in return, they received five or six telemarketing calls a day from what could only be described as predatory charities.
I have nothing against the respectable ones – and I really don’t see any other way for them to raise the money – but for me, I keep a wad of bills handy to stuff into the kettles of the bell ringers who brave the cold every Christmas. …
But then there are predatory bell ringers as well.
Like the guy manning the kettle in front of the hardware store last week.
“A buck?” he says as I slip a bill into his kettle. “Ain’t you being a little cheap?”
We know each other and we always give each other grief, so I gave it right back.
“Speak for yourself,” I tell him, “last time I came in here, the bell ringer was singing Christmas Carols.”
“Put $5 in the kettle,” he says, doing a perfect Tony Soprano imitation.
“Or else I will sing,” he says.
I gave $10.