It's not that this time of year, or this year in particular, has been bad. It's more of the fact that I'm a lot more aware of the extravagance this year than I have been in the past. Looking back on my life, it makes me a little sick to think about the hundreds and thousands of dollars in gifts I've received in the last 19 years of my life on and around the Christmas season (this is excluding other times like graduations, birthdays, my baptism/confirmation/first holy communion, etc). Thinking about it, the amount of money that has been spent on me, one single person, could probably have gone to causes millions of times more important. However, being ignorant in the past about such causes, there was no way that I could have possibly known any better than to ask for toys, gift cards, and money around the holidays.
I enjoy the time I get to spend with my family, but after reading Peter Singer's book, and while being in the process of reading Jeffrey Sachs' book, it's hard not to feel miserable about the whole concept of gift giving in terms of unnecessary items like toys and gift cards. I've been so conscious about what I've been spending recently. Even doing things like having dinner out with friends, or going to the movies with my mom--it all seems so extravagant after reading what that $25 or $10.50 could do in the life of someone who really and truly needs it.
I've been going through the things in my room at home that I no longer need or use. I'm sorting through it all and I plan on donating a lot of it, or selling it and then donating the money I get from the things to some charity. It all just comes down to: which charity, as Singer raises the concern in his book. Which one will use the money as effectively as possible?
It's all really hard to think about and consider.