By far, the best Christmas gift I gave last year was a goat. That’s right - I gave someone a live goat! And it was such a good gift that I’m giving more goats away this year. This may seem strange given my disdain for goats and especially goat yoga. Goats are wily, frisky creatures, and not to be trusted. Now if you are on my Christmas list, fear not (said the angel of the Lord) because you will not be getting a goat, but someone will.
Last November, I got a catalog from ChildFund International listing all the “realgifts” available to give to poor families in Africa. On the cover was a photo of a happy African kid holding a goat. The catalog explained that goats provide wholesome milk, cheese, yogurt (now the cheese and yogurt don’t come directly out of the goat.) and “so much more”. Families can even sell the excess dairy products (that goat is going to be busy) for much-needed income. And since goats breed easily (those frisky beasts!), you could end up with a whole herd if you set the mood right.
It said thousands of lives have been transformed -- yes transformed -- by the gift of goats! These are transformational goats with spiritual powers! Of course, it is understood that the “so much more” the goats may provide is they can be eaten if the family is starving. The reality is, that cute kid on the cover of the brochure could be smiling because he is famished and might sink his teeth into the goat, seconds after the photo is taken. But I encourage you to following my example and give a goat this year! (Click: Give a goat right here!)
I know this is a gimmick, and usually, I am impervious to all gimmicks from charitable organizations. I believe this is due from when I worked in the mailing operations of what was, at one time, one of the largest televangelist organizations in the world. Soon after I started, I asked what was in the boxes in the corner. A coworker said it was leftover anointing oil from Reverend Ron’s last campaign. If viewers sent in $100 or more, they got a small plastic vial of Reverend Ron’s anointing oil. They were instructed to rub the oil on their forehead, and their lives would be transformed. Hey! --Just like the goats, although it is much more difficult to rub a goat on your forehead.
One day on my break, I took one of the vials and rubbed some anointing oil on my arm, I couldn’t put it on my forehead without it being detected now, could I? It was just vegetable oil, perhaps snake oil, nothing more. Of course, it had been blessed by the Reverend Ron, and that motivated people to send him $100 or more, for maybe an eighth of an ounce of cooking oil. And I’m not saying that the oil didn’t work, because faith is a powerful and mysterious force. However, if the Internet had existed then, I’m sure someone would have posted instructions on how to anoint yourself for $1 by using some Wesson, and you would still have enough left over to make some delicious french fries for supper!
But even though the goats are a gimmick, I trust ChildFund International to deliver the goods, well, in this case, deliver the goats. I have sponsored a poor African kid (PAK) through them for a couple of years. My official reason for the sponsorship is that it is important to help those less fortunate than you, and there is no one less fortunate than a PAK. However, I worry that my giving to a PAK is just a covert way to justify my purchases of lattes.
A new coffeehouse recently opened up near my house. I stop in maybe once a week or so. I am very disappointed they do not serve cappuccino, but they do brew a delightful double mocha latte for $4.45 a cup. Now there is no way I can justify paying $4.45 for coffee. You can probably feed a family in Kenya for like a year on that. But Kenya is very far away, and the coffee shop with its blinking light is right in front of me, so the double mocha latte wins. And as I slurp down this chocolaty goodness I think: I know this is wrong, but I gave money to that PAK, so I’m still a great person.
So, for some reason, ChildFund International got me with that goat gimmick. You might say they really got my goat. I gave two goats last year and it felt so good I’m doing it again this year. If you would like to give a goat, (they are $99 each) go to www.childfund.org. And I do believe it is important to give out of your abundance to the less fortunate if you are able.
And like most everyone, I do most of my giving at Christmastime. Despite all the commercialized hype, Christmas forces us by its original pureness to live better than we normally do. That’s why we do more good deeds and are more charitable to the less fortunate at this time. So, this holy day reminds us of two things: 1. We know how to do good. 2. We are not able to be this good the rest of the year. Which seems like a cruel trick to me. I’m sorry, being this good the entire year has to be impossible. You just show me someone, anyone, who has ever been able to do this and I, I, -- Oh, well played God, well played indeed.
Therefore, it would appear that the more we try to distort and pervert Christmas, the more the true meaning becomes clear. And that in itself is a miracle. Please consider giving someone a goat this Christmas. It's much better than buying yourself or someone a huge expensive pickup truck or luxury SUV like in those awful, cheesy "It's the Season!" commercials. (Click: Give a goat!)