The Box

Posted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF's Founder and General Counsel on December 17, 2007

It’s the holiday season… again. I’ve always been rather cynical about those folks who mouth off about the true meaning of Christmas. Oddly, this year, I find that I may be one of them.  

What bothers me about this time of year is that there are too many events and celebrations to go to, too many responsibilities to attend to, too many sugary songs telling me that I should feel oh, so jolly, when what I’ve been feeling is overloaded, rushed and stressed. And, I have found myself uttering: “Bah Humbug,” wishing that I didn’t have to go to a party that I knew I would enjoy.

A woman in my Weight Watcher’s class (yes; I’m living proof that vegans can get fat) said something that resonated with me: "We Americans suffer from an embarrassment of riches; too many gifts to buy, too many parties to go to.  When you find yourself complaining about that, you should thank your lucky stars for such abundance and find ways to bring the balance back into your life." What a wise woman!

So, this holiday season, "Ebenezer" Tischler is trying to be more conscious of what Christmas is supposed to be about: it’s about caring for others, particularly those less fortunate than me. Another "support" group I belong to gave me the gift of a small cardboard box, which says: "Welcome a Guest at Your Table." Every time I eat a meal, I put some money in the box. It’s for those who cannot afford the wholesome food that I buy. I’ve decided to stay away from the mall (my natural habitat) and buy less for my relatives who, like me, have what they need to be comfortable. The money I save can go into the box. In January, the money from the box will go to people who need housing, clean water, basic medical care.

My canine family members, Shadow and Edgar (who, in their former lives, knew all too well what it is to be cold and hungry) and feline family members, George, Andy, Hamlet and Marley, also have everything they need. In honor of them, I’m putting out another box. This one is for the many, many animals who are still suffering this holiday season. The pigs, calves and chickens trapped in intensive confinement in factory "farms," the primates, dogs, cats, mice, and rats in cold, steel cages in research labs, the dogs and cats with clouded eyes and rotting teeth who are suffering at the mercy of hoarders, and the wildlife subjected to hunting, trapping and fur farming.  As often as I can, I will sit quietly, close my eyes and hold them in my thoughts and in my heart. And, I’ll put some money in the box to support the wonderful groups doing all that they can to help them.

To you and yours,

Namaste.