Holidays and the power of one | Tish Gregory

This editorial cartoon was drawn by Renton High School student Alex Kalinin. - Alex Kalinin
This editorial cartoon was drawn by Renton High School student Alex Kalinin.
— image credit: Alex Kalinin

This is difficult for me to say, but my name is Tish and I am an addict. I think this holiday season it’s time for me to go on the wagon. Not the alcohol or rich-food wagon, but the charitable-giving wagon.

Requests from deserving charities to help the less fortunate at this time of year are overwhelming. The pleas are like large neon signs flashing before my eyes with such intensity that my giving heart wants to help everyone. But how can I, when the need is getting greater and my funds are getting smaller?

Not being able to help everyone is depressing, so it’s best I acknowledge the problem and shut down.

Ignoring cries for help, however, will not be easy, as temptations are everywhere.

Some tactics I can employ is quickly dumping mail requests, like those from the Union Gospel Mission, in the recycle bin without even taking my name off, at great peril of risking identity theft.  When TV and radio stations begin their plea for Northwest Harvest food drives, I’ll change the channel. I’ll politely thank the Marines for their service while ignoring their Toys for Tots bins. Finally, I’ll crank up the volume on my iPod to drown out the Salvation Army kettle bells.

With the physical part taken care of, I must now work on the mental. It will require blocking out the disappointment on the faces of seniors, teenagers and little children who didn’t receive their requests placed on giving trees. And the vision that some families will be eating spam and not ham for their holiday dinner is really eating at me. I must control thoughts like these or I surely will fall off the wagon.

It’s been reported that Jesus Christ fed thousands with a few fish.  But I’m just Tish, and 2,000 years later even with inflation and all, I don’t think my $100 will have the same impact. So, again, if I can’t help all of them, I’ll help no one.

Disappointedly, this new program of charitable-giving starvation isn’t providing much relief. The depression I had before at not being able to respond to every request, is just as debilitating as not responding to any.  I tried being blind to the need, but when you really want your memory to fail you, it doesn’t. A giving heart cannot just go cold turkey.

In need of some therapy, I thought I would start out slow with my own one-step program - 1 – 1 – 1; i.e., one charity, one bag of food and one gift.  I’ll turn my thinking around from helping no one, to helping just one.

Adopt-a-Family programs like those sponsored by St. Anthony Parish or the YWCA are good fits for my recovery plan. Providing food and gifts for one family fits my budget and satisfies my need to contribute.

I also must realize that the gift of time is equally as important as giving gifts – like volunteering at the Salvation Army in mid-December to help set up and distribute holiday food and gifts to their clients.

These are positive steps, but I will always be concerned about those I didn’t help. To rid myself of the guilt, I will need a support group.  Support from others is critical and requires trust. Trust that they will see the need and help others less fortunate, even if they, too, can only follow the one-step program. In doing so, I’ll gain confidence that the needs of the community will be met - not by just one giving heart, but many.

This is one time I can feel good at falling off the wagon.

Tish Gregory is a free-lance writer.  She can be reached at tishgregory@aol.com




• YWCA Adopt-a-Family – L. Mills @  206-461-4450

• St. Anthony Adopt-a-Family – Mary Ann Smith @ 425-255-3132

• Salvation Army – Capt. Lisa Aird @ 425-255-5969


I want to thank Alex Kalinin, a student from Renton High School, for his cartoon interpretation of my article.

Tish Gregory

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