Welcome to Week 34 of Be the Change!

I must confess that, as an atheist Jew who grew up celebrating neither Hanukkah nor Christmas, I find this time of year rather befuddling. Why, for instance, we all celebrate the birth of a Middle Eastern Jew via a Nordic tradition intermingled with an orgy of consumerism, is beyond me. Nevertheless, now that we have a son, my wife enjoys passing on to him the fun parts of the Holidays--Christmas lights, Santa, gifts under the tree--and I, well I go along with it.

Still, as one of this week's poems indicates, I am very uncomfortable with all the consumption, especially in a time of climate crisis and rising inequality. Does that make me a Grinch? I dunno. Read the poem, The Spirit of Christmas, and let me know what you think! I also share a poem in honor of my dad's 79th birthday.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and all that jazz!

Please forward this to your friends and ask them to sign up too.

The Spirit of Christmas

The Spirit of Christmas
It's all too much, the floor strewn with gifts
we couldn't possibly deserve. But our son
is happy, going from toy to toy, and so
are we, smiling along with him as he plays
with the train, the trucks, the scooter.

Tonight our son will sleep fitfully, dreaming
what gifts tomorrow will bring. Exhausted,
we'll gather up the trash, question what
can be recycled and what cannot, wonder
how long until these toys too turn to trash,
until we run out of things to make us happy.

What You Should Know on Your 79th Birthday

What You Should Know on Your 79th Birthday
For Dad

You should know it’s raining now,
how much I needed this rain,
its hands smoothing the thorns
of drought.

You should know I find it easier
to write of climate change than love,
that time’s passage hurts in ways
drought cannot.

You should know I cherish memories
of bike rides, tennis matches, math lessons,
arguments—all that which gives one strength
to survive drought.

You should know I love you by looking
at the rain, how it embraces leaf, branch, and root—
how, embracing you, I swell with tears
that erase drought.
If it's not too late, instead of giving a gift someone doesn't need, consider making a donation to a high-impact nonprofit. Check out GiveWell for some great recommendations for where to donate.

- Andy