Minimalist Holiday: Give Hope

As we gather with friends and family this holiday week, many of us will find that despite the hardships of this economy, we are truly blessed. If you’re reading this blog, it’s pretty likely you have a roof over your head, a warm place to sleep, and plenty of food on the table.

We must remember, however, that others may not be so lucky. Too many homeless are sleeping on streets tonight; too many children are going to bed hungry; and too many people are losing their struggle for survival due to a lack of basic medical care and supplies.

Minimalism isn’t just about decluttering our closets and living with less; it’s determining when we have enough, so we can do something good with the excess. It makes no sense to hoard every last possession (or every last dollar) for ourselves, when just a few of them could make a significant difference in someone else’s life.

Take a little time this week, and consider how you can incorporate charity into your minimalist lifestyle. Donate some of your stuff, or some of your money to a good cause. Whether you decide to help someone down the street, or halfway across the world, help someone.

The impact goes far beyond the items you give, or the check you write. Because when someone is down on their luck, out of resources, or with nowhere else to turn, your act of kindness gives them hope. Just knowing that someone out there cares can give them the strength to carry on, the feeling that they’re not alone, the hope that tomorrow will be a brighter day. It’s the greatest minimalist gift you can give.

Wishing all of you a serene and beautiful holiday!

32 comments to Minimalist Holiday: Give Hope

  • AussieGirl

    This is such a lovely post. :)

    Best wishes for the holidays to both you and your partner, Francine.

  • Apple

    This is beautiful Francine. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  • Sara

    Thank you for this lovely post! It inspired me to give a contribution to shelter for cats in my home region and dedicate it as a Christmas gift to a good friend of mine who is also into minimalism.

  • Heather

    This is lovely. My goal in life is to drive across America and help those in need. I believe charity begins in our own back yards. Right now, I am working with an animal rescue program. It’s been eye opening and heart growing experience.

  • SallyGirl

    Maybe its all the holiday sentimentality getting to me, but this post is so genuine and so necessary that I choked up a little while reading it. Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday!

  • Thank you so much for reminding us in the midst of this most materialistic, crazed season that there are many who would so value the posessions that are gathering dust in our homes and spaces.

    In July, I linked to that fabulous post you wrote on where to donate stuff … and it was well-received by my own readers.

    Thanks so much for your valuable outlook which is making a huge difference in the lives and homes of those of us who’ve said, “Enough is enough!”

    Christmas Blessings …

  • Gil

    it’s determining when we have enough, so we can do something good with the excess

    I agree, Francine. I will also say donating money is great, but giving of our time to those in need is even better.

    Holiday Greetings to you and family

  • Rebecca B. A. R.

    Amen! Merry Christmas!

  • A beautifully written sentiment that is surely on the back of many of our minds. Thank you for gently and eloquently moving it to the front of our minds so we’re reminded to keep things in perspective, to be thankful for all we have, and to share with our community, our world. Blessings!

  • A beautiful reminder, thank you ever so much.

  • Carolyn

    So well expressed! Thank you, and happy holidays to all!

  • Sista Minimalista

    That was wonderful, Francine. Thank you so much.

  • Yes, yes, yes! You put it so beautifully. I have been featuring gift catalogs on my site all month because of this. Why spend so much money on gifts for each other when they will add clutter and, because of excess, not be truly valued? We could give that same money to someone else and have it ‘change their world’.

    I think it is true ‘richness’ when we can have more than enough, and enough to give away. When the focus can turn from incoming to outgoing.

  • Thank you for your post, Francine, and for inspiring and reminding me of the important things all year round.

  • Thankyou Francine for highlighting the positive flow on effect of minimalism.That we have enough and have something left to share with others.
    Ive just made a $1000 donation to a mental health support group in my community that gives free counselling and support to those suffering from anxiety and depression and has helped hundreds of people back to work and functionality.
    Far better use of $1000 than another 10 pairs of shoes.

  • I would LOVE to recommend to you all

    Please check them out, tell them I sent you ( Francesca Tulk ). I don’t get anything for it, but they do ask you if anyone referred you.

    You loan $25 to third world people in business and they pay you back. It’s quite lovely…you can’t lose. You either get it paid back or you can reinvest in another’s future…

    The site is ace, you can see everything as it happens…

    • Susie

      I second this – Kiva is wonderful!

      One Christmas 5 or 6 years ago, I did a stocktake of what I had saved by having a gift-free Christmas (an innovation in my family at the time) and put that amount into a Kiva account for lending. It has given me great pleasure over the years to make a small difference to the lives of others.

  • Magpie

    A fantastic post Francine. Makes you sit back and take stock of all that is happening around us. Have a lovely holiday.

  • Cynthia

    Merry Christmas Francine and everyone! This post has been a blessing to me this year and pointing outward in life is what it’s really all about. It’s important to have reminders like this.

  • christine

    Thank you so much Francine. You are such an inspiration! I was wondering: what system do you use for all important papers that we are supposed to keep, and which is just one more clutter we have to put up with? Do you just digitize everything? Are digital versions of most papers recognized and accepted as valid? I would love to learn how you deal with this! Looking forward to more inspiration from you in the new year! Have a beautiful simple year and keep writing :)

  • Brittany

    It’s interesting that you poted this, the week you posted this my husband and I helped a homeless man find shelter! And also pulled together some stuff for him.

  • Tina

    Giving at least 2 bags of stuff to Goodwill each week, and making donations to our food pantry. I’ve talked to some of the homeless people I see at our local library- trying to encourage them to get food stamps and connect with the local network of shelters. Many of them sleep in parking garages or in the forest preserves in our area.

  • Tina

    While reading a gardening magazine I came across a new place to volunteer, I don’t do as much in the winter as in the summer. I wrote the number and website down and will give them a call. Thank you.

  • I did a class on frugal gardening yesterday. Gave away wildflower seeds and packets of infor- mation provided by the Audubon society and a local gardening group. Also gave away cuttings of 4 kinds of house plants as some of the people don’t have yards or balconies with their apartments.

  • Mike

    The past few years, my sig other and I have been cutting the number of gifts that we get for each other, and gifts that we get for our families. These cutbacks have really allowed us to spend money on things that matter: donations to charities near and dear to our hearts in each other’s name. The most meaningful gift that I’d given my SO over the years was a donation to the HSUS in memory of their mother. We received a little card in the mail with a note of gratitude for the gift and a memorial to their mother. Even today, that note gets pride of place in our house, as it reminds us of the values passed down from mother to child and now to me, are still active, long after mom passed away. We could get rid of the note if we wanted to, because the memories of mom are in us and in the things that we do in her memory, and not in the mementos; however, it’s a such a small thing that it really costs us nothing to keep it.

    Compare that to the mountains of stuff that we’ve received over the years, from each other and from our framilies. I couldn’t begin to tell you what we received last year, let alone for the prior years. Maybe 2 % of the stuff was actually useful and kept in our lives. One example was a set of bike tools. I ride a bike daily for transportation, and I had lost a compact set of tools earlier that year, so this gift was most welcome and found it’s way into my bike bag. I wouldn’t say I “use” it daily, because bikes just don’t require daily attention, but boy it has been useful for those rare roadside repairs. Those tools are of course the exception to the rule. The rest of the stuff was quickly donated to various charities near me and soon forgotten. I’d love to go gift-free this year and have our framilies simply give to the charities directly rather involving us in this flow of physical goods. I think I’ll give Francine’s advice a try.

    Another thing I’d like to do is to walk around the downtown core around Christmas time with my SO. We’d done that once in the past and it’s perhaps our best memory of the holidays. We weren’t minimalists back then so the trip did involve some shopping, though at least the things we picked up had some staying power. This year, I think we’ll expand on that idea and do it more often. Maybe even go for a long weekend. I hear that NYC and Chicago are beautiful at Xmas time.

  • Tina

    My son runs the Chicago Marathon to raise money for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. We always contribute and encourage our friends to do so. My other son was collecting cans of food to take to work for a food drive so I filled a large cloth bag. We have plenty of food and enough money to share, it’s a shame there are hungry, homeless people in the USA.

  • Tina

    I am giving away 75 houseplants because I am teaching a class on making succulent dish gardens. The class is free. I got the containers at Goodwill. I raised the plants myself from cuttings I was given and grew in containers from leftovers that friends gave me. I bought potting soil and a few pretty stones. I collect holiday cards from all my neighbors and give them to friends who volunteer in nursing homes. I am trying to save as much as possible from the land fills.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>