This is the time of year, I usually indulge in a shopper’s “high,” taking my credit cards out for a joy ride, selecting gifts for family and friends. Finding just the right bejeweled headbands for 16-year-old twins, ironic socks for jaded politicos, and vintage tea cups for Aunt Sally. Not this year. Or more to the point, not after this election.
With Trump steering the ship of state with a gay-rights-opposing vice president and a white nationalist chief strategist, I feel incapable of spending down the fears and anxieties swirling around me. My LGBTQ friends don’t need another cashmere scarf. My black, Latino and Muslim friends don’t need more jewelry. My Jewish friends can do without the new David Crosby CD, even though it’s sure to win a Grammy. My friends with disabilities and serious health issues don’t really want another crazy Santa sweater. I don’t know a single woman or environmentalist whose sleepless nights would be soothed by a year’s subscription to a wine-of-the-month club.
That is why this year, I am giving each and every one on my list the only gift that matters. I am making donations in their names to the non-profit organizations that directly safeguard their rights. In every case, I will try to make the perfect match and, if I am unsure, I will ask, “What is most meaningful to you?”
For some, it will be Planned Parenthood. For others it will be the ACLU, Anti-Defamation League, NAACP, GLAAD, Equality Pennsylvania, or the League of Conservation Voters. In every case, I will try to make sure that my donations represent the concerns of the recipients. Just as I wouldn’t give a fur hat to an animal rights activist, I will not make a donation to, say, the Southern Poverty Law Center in the name of someone whose primary concern is the rights of Native Americans at Standing Rock.
I hope that my donations, no matter how small, will cause family and friends to feel the true joy of the holidays which, right now, seems so far out of reach. I imagine Santa this year, lugging his sack from rooftop to rooftop with a sense of futility, knowing that a new pair of ice skates or diamond stud earrings aren’t going to erase the gloom hanging over 50 percent of American households. (In Philly, make that more like 85 percent.)
Trump promised American workers a return to “good jobs.” I suspect they are going to find a lump of coal in their stocking. Do they really believe that the union-busting GOP will usher in a return to collective bargaining and higher wages? That TrumpCare will provide equal access to healthcare without increasing costs for low-income families? That his proposed tax reform will create “trickle-down” employment?
If so, I think that in addition to writing checks to organizations that safeguard our democracy, we should start making gift baskets for those who voted for Trump. These folks are going to feel left behind by the very elitists and insiders they thought they were defeating. Before they carry their Christmas trees to the curb, they will be scratching their heads wondering what happened to his campaign promises to “drain the swamp,” build that wall or lock her up.
From sports bars and living rooms across America, they will blink in confusion as Trump gives his inaugural address devoid of the “code words” that gave free reign to racism, bigotry and hatred. He will speak instead of unity, reaching across the aisle, and, oh yeah, “making America great again.” So, in addition to making donations to organizations that defend our hard-won freedoms this Christmas, I just might just start knitting mittens for Trump supporters in the Great Plains. It’s going to be a cold, cruel winter for them, too.