Now, even if I was a "War on Xmas" type atheist, which I'm not, I would still admit that giving is a very good thing. When you have carefully selected something very nice for someone you care about and they genuinely like it, it's a good feeling. No one can deny that joy it gives you to know you've touched somebody by maybe giving them that little luxury they wouldn't have gotten for themselves, or that hard-to-find something they might not have had the time to track down. There is something to be said for the "spirit of giving." When I have the money, I like to give to charities sometimes, and even when I don't necessarily have the money. Sometimes putting a coat I don't use in the Goodwill box or giving up some spare cans of veggies to a soup kitchen just makes you feel like you've done your part a little. It's a good feeling, and Christmas kind of inspires you to do those kinds of things.
The flip side of giving in the holiday season is knowing you aren't going to please everybody. There's always that person you know who might not really agree with you all year long, and you dread having to spend a holiday across the table from them, with their Limbaugh-quoting, and the Palin-loving (other holidays it was Buchanan, or Reagan, or Nixon, or who-knows-who--just whoever you are diametrically opposed to at the moment). They tell the racial jokes, they say things about gays and liberals....they eyeball you, the patchouli-smelling, vegetable-eating, ACLU-card-carrying whatever you are, and you just wonder how you can make them feel the holiday spirit, in your own special way. But how to do it--their taste just isn't your taste. It just can't be ties, cologne, or a fruit basket, again.
I have an idea--give in their name to the charity of your choice. That's right. Give until it hurts. If they are NRA people--you go and donate money in their name to the ACLU, because after all, the 2nd Amendment is a perfectly good amendment. The ACLU would be in favor of it. They would also support the free-speech rights of Hannity and O'Reilly and Limbaugh and other concerned talk-radio fans, who worry that free speech will be protected in the face of a possibly proposed law that might try and make media be more fair and balanced. They are totally "win" on the subject of free speech!
If they are deeply religious, you be sure and donate in their name to Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. You let them know that your donation will keep the wicked state and the Princes of this World away from their religion. If they like to talk about strong family values, you can donate a little bit to the Victory Fund which shows a firm commitment to supporting everybody's family, and making sure they have equality. And if you know someone who is an American super-patriot--what better than donating something for them to People For the American Way. What does the name say? America! The whole, beautiful, diverse, working, dreaming, living, equal, lot of us. They really support America's values, like the Buill of Rights, and our civil righs, and stuff like that--because America is fundamentally progressive if you actually look at our revolutionary history, and about liberty! So the person told that you donated to them in their name will just have to be pleased! (But you might want to keep a fruit basket in reserve.)
If you happen to be one of those lucky so-and-so's, though, who don't have a politically problematic gift recipient, but still want to do a little something, and particularly if you might be a smidgen cash-strapped, here's some links--you might still click your way to something good, or you might find an inexpensive gift for somebody, or you might save the links and pass them on, too, and you know what?
It's all good.
Get yourself a hemp t-shirt, or a recycled material shopping bag while you're at it. Its neat, its inexpensive, and it might do a little good. And if you do it in the name of some old grump who doesn't do charity--even better. I never saw a reason why you can't have charity *and* spite in the same transaction.
Edit: I'm too bourbon-soaked and it's too late at night to make the ever-loving buttons work, so I'll just post links:
The Breast Cancer Site
The Rainforest Site
and the Ecology Site.