You Don’t Have to (and Can’t) Give to Everything

You Don’t Have to (and Can’t) Give to Everything

The bookstore I work in ran a book and toy drive this month. It ends today and we managed to blow past our store goal and have had many more books donated than expected. All the donations go to local foster kids so it’s really a cool program and I liked it enough to push it pretty well with our customers.

As far as I know, I managed to get the most donations (I have to double check the numbers today) and I think that’s just because it was something I could really believe in. Books are incredibly important, especially for kids. Reading fosters creativity, imagination, literacy, critical thinking, interest in learning, etc. If there is a way I can help get books to kids who need them then I will do it.

I would always present the book drive by gesturing to the suggested books we kept at the register and giving a very short summary of what it was before asking if they would be interested in donating a book. I actually went a little bit the extra mile by making sure there was a wide price range available for the books I suggested at my register. If someone was hesitant about the $15 book that was in the front I could easily suggest a $5 or $10 book that was more what they were willing to donate. I never tried to press people into donating beyond making it as easy as possible to do so. (I don’t think any of my coworkers tried to guilt anyone either or press them into doing something they clearly didn’t want to do.)

Sometimes when I would present the book drive the customer would say that they had already donated at their church or they usually donated to some other charities. To them I would say, that’s wonderful! And I would move on with no more pressure to give a book. Occasionally, a customer would say that they wish they could donate but just had so little money right then that the gifts they were buying was all they could afford that week. To them I would say, that’s totally fine! And I would move on. I know people can feel guilty about not donating, especially when it’s something they feel connected to in some way. If a customer expressed that kind of sentiment I was always quick to say that you can’t do everything.

This time of year, everyone is asking for donations. Money, toys, books, etc. It can be very overwhelming very fast. You can’t do everything. There are a million charities out there because one charity could never perform all the duties necessary. You have to choose where to put your support. I know I would love to be able to give a lot to many charities because there are a lot doing an insane amount of good. But I can’t. Neither can you. And that’s okay. You don’t have to.

It may be awkward for a moment with the cashier when you say you’re too broke to give but we understand. How are you supposed to work and give when you can if you can’t pay your rent this week? Give when you can to what you can and don’t beat yourself up about not giving all the time. I encourage sharing with those less fortunate than yourself but I think it’s better to make a difference in one place rather than spread yourself too thin across many.



I won’t be posting next week as it will be Christmas Eve.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!


Be Nice to Retail Workers or I’ll Cut You

Everyone should work in retail for a year. This is a sentiment shared by nearly every person who has ever had a minimum (or close to minimum) wage job where they had to deal with the public. It’s very eye opening to see what people think they can do/get away with. I don’t know if they think they can bypass policy because they’re so much more important than everyone else or if it’s because they think I’m lying. I’m not lying and it’s not the end of the world. Maybe you think it is but I’m pretty sure the earth will continue it’s rotation, the sun will continue to shine, and your heart will not suddenly stop beating because the store I work for has no Hatchimals in stock. It’s almost like you should have planned ahead and started shopping before December if you wanted one of the limited quantity, extremely popular toys.

I get it. You have endless shopping and only one day off and you’re 5yr old is already throwing a fit in the aisle but that’s not my fault as an employee. It’s the season of harmony, love, and giving so what better time to feel the wrath of displeased customers? What better time to throw a fit because the book you wanted can’t be guaranteed to arrive by Christmas Eve? You’re a grown adult! Stop acting like a child who didn’t get what he wanted from Santa.

That was a bit more rant than I had anticipated but seriously. Retail and fast food workers are just trying to make it through the holiday rush just like you. They don’t make the policies but can be fired for not following them. They don’t make the prices so complaining about them accomplishes nothing. They didn’t write your kid’s Christmas list so don’t complain about not getting something when you didn’t even know what it was. They didn’t ask you to wait until the last minute to do all your shopping. They didn’t orchestrate a long line at the register to make you more late.

It’s not difficult to treat people with respect. If you’re angry and irritated already then just keep your mouth shut. It’s much less rude to keep an interaction short/to the point than it is to blow up at someone who can’t do anything to fix the problem. It doesn’t cost anything to be considerate of the people who are providing you a service. They are people too and they are just as important as you are in the transaction.

I wish that everyone worked in retail at one point or another, especially around the holidays. It can get very crazy very fast and it’s generally not because the employees aren’t doing their jobs. Everyone is overworked and everywhere is understaffed. There’s this ideal in everyone’s head where everything runs smoothly all the time. Reality is much messier than that and it’s not really anyone’s fault in particular.

I’m all about Christmas. It’s a very heartwarming holiday full of wonderful traditions for many people. Buy it’s mostly, mainly, for sure about Jesus and the hope that he brought to the world. It’s important to keep that in mind as you do your holiday shopping. Maybe if that’s at the forefront of your thinking then it won’t be so hard to treat retail workers as Jesus would have.

Gift Giving

Gift Giving

It’s officially December!! Christmas is coming!!

Traditionally, that means gift giving. Whether for Christmas or Hannukah or whatever you celebrate, gifting has infiltrated a lot of religious—and non-religious— holidays that didn’t really start with it. Some people dislike the tradition because they see it as a deviation from what the holidays originally meant.

I like giving gifts to people. Friends, relatives, even just to people I don’t know very well like new coworkers or classmates. I like to pick out what I think the person will really like and I put a lot of thought into their personality, their interests, etc. I want them to like it. If they don’t, then I want them to tell me so I can figure out something different for the future. I’m not one of those people who really wants to watch you open the gift, I just want to know if it’s a good one or not. Never will I take offense if someone dislikes a gift.

I never think I’ve gotten the perfect gift. Even tho I know they’ll probably like what I decide to get them, what they don’t know is how many other ideas I had for them and how long I deliberated over what I purchased or made. They don’t know what my first grand plan was. It was probably extensive and unrealistic. I usually want to make something insanely detailed and elaborate and specifically and carefully designed for the receiver. By the time the dust settles I’ve become more realistic, probably purchased a few things, time has passed. I had to settle for one thing or another or I can’t get exactly what I had in mind.

When they get the gift, they usually like it just fine and I’m happy to have given it. But this yr I’ve been feeling this nagging in the back of my mind that what I got maybe wasn’t the best. That maybe something I decided against was better or maybe a better option would’ve come along later. I get this way about any gifts because I take them so seriously. There are only so many opportunities throughout the year to give gifts so I feel very limited. I don’t want to give too much or too often because I know how that can make people feel obligated to give me things back. They aren’t obligated to give me anything back.

I like giving gifts a lot more than getting them. I think it’s just a different kind of pressure when it comes to opening gifts and that’s why I don’t ever feel bad if someone doesn’t like the gift I got them. I know the pressure on the receiving end to act like you like whatever you got, even if you don’t. Yeah, I do feel a little disappointment when someone doesn’t like what I gave but at the same time, I appreciate honesty and I don’t want to continue giving gifts they don’t really want. I’d rather know and be disappointed than be known as a bad gifter who never changes their ways.

Whether you put incredible thought into gift giving or if you go straight for the wishlist and gift cards (which are still thoughtful! Just less time-consuming), this is still a wonderful time of the year to both give and receive! To me, it’s a reminder of God’s gift to us, His son, Jesus. There’s no better gift than that!