Happy Solstice my friends. I wrote what follows in 2006, and I've decided to re-post it here today because not only is it still valid, I don't think I can say it any better than I did then. Today's Gift for Knitters is the gift of kindness, and generosity and help. We've updated the Knitters Without Borders in the sidebar. Today it stands at $1 102 556, up more than $40 000 from the last time, and I am so sure of the nature of knitters that I have moved the goal to $2 000 000, which is completely insane, but the best sort of optimism - well matched to the day that the light begins to return. Please consider a donation.
These weeks are the darkest of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, each day we have a little less light. Each day things are a little colder, the sun rises later, sets sooner and darkness overwhelmingly outweighs light, while it gets harder and harder to take a good blog picture of yarn on the front porch. (Maybe that one is just me.) For many of us, our moods head in the same direction.
Luckily, Northern humanity has figured out a way to get through.
Christmas, Solstice, Yule, Hannukah, HumanLight, Kwanzaa, Saint Lucia Day, Diwali, Yalda. Dong Zhi.
All over the world, people gather their loved ones together, light candles, decorate their homes, put up trees, share a meal or exchange gifts with each other and all of their celebrations have one thing in common. They are celebrating (among other fine miracles and beliefs) the return of the light. All of these holidays happen on or around the time of the solstice. The magic day that follows the longest night, when the planet swings far enough over and whether you can feel it or not....the days get longer. Sun wins over moon. The earth begins to warm and another long dark winter is on it's way out. (You may have noticed, what with February being what it is in Canada that this process is fairly gradual.) The balance shifts.
Balance is what I've been thinking about this season. It seems to me that nothing at all is ever going to get any better in the world if we can't learn to share our wealth. (I know when you're trying to pay the gas bill it doesn't always feel like you are rich, but I'm comparing globally.) It should be impossible, in a world that is as decent as the people that I meet in it, that some of us should have three coats and are trying to drop a few (or more) pounds before we fête the season with more food and gifts, that others will starve or die of preventable illness and disease while we party on. I am convinced we can do better. I really am.
It simply can't be that we are this rich, so far in the sun, that many of us will die of our excess, while others, as worthy and hardworking as we are, will remain so very poor that they will die of it. In 2004 the tsunami killed an estimated 229,866 people and humanity rose to the occasion with unprecedented attention and worldwide fundraising. Now, this year more than four million people have quietly died of Malaria and HIV/AIDS - and we, as a planet, are somehow pretty quiet about that. We need to step up like we have done before. We need to step up every day. We need to learn to share, in a global sense.
Imagine that your family, however big or small it is, gets another member. A baby is born, someone marries, it happens all the time. Now, naturally...as is the case when someone is added to a family, they are welcome at your winter festivities and they will be fed and receive a gift (or, in the case of many of our families, multiple gifts.) When a new family member is added, no-one declines to feed them because you can't afford it, no-one refuses to buy them a birthday or holiday gift because the family is big enough. You spend a little less on each other person, you spread your budget around, maybe if you're really broke you make them a card... but you make it work.
The challenge is to imagine this person has been added to the list of people you care for in some way, and to give their share to my favourite good guys, Médecins Sans Frontières/ Doctors Without Borders.
In short, and to the best of your ability, I want you to include MSF/DWB and the people they help to your family.
MSF / DWB provides medical care to those in desperate situations and is transparent and neutral, without religious or political affiliations. They have won the Nobel Peace Prize and you can read their charter here.
When you've done that, send me an email (kwbATyarnharlotDOTca ) and tell me how much you were able to give. (It is very helpful to me if you mention if that's in Canadian or US dollars) When you do, Natalie and I (and the family elves) will add you to my list of Knitters Without Borders or, if you're already on it, I'll up your total. I don't need to see a receipt or proof that you have given this gift, because I truly, truly believe nobody would lie about this. (If you are someone who has been giving a monthly donation since the first time we did this, let me know and I'll update your total.)
Here's the fun part. I would like to stun the world with the power of knitters. I'd like them to see what I already know about you. I'd like you to achieve something incredible and legendary. I'd like to you aim high and make other people inspired.
I would like knitters to double the number in the sidebar. ( Currently about $1 102 556) We are now aiming for Two Million Dollars.
This will be a big job. It won't be easy, it might even pinch a little, but it can't hurt as much as doing nothing, or it can't hurt as much as being one of the people in the world who needs help for a loved one and is watching them die because they have the bad luck to live in a country where you can't call 911. For my family to manage our goal, we will need to spend a few dollars less on each gift, skip store-bought hot chocolate, ask Santa to put a tiny bit less in the stockings, and bake a few less cookies. (I'll have to knit from stash for a while, and that's not exactly punishing. ) I bet your family could find somewhere to trim a little so you could share too. Maybe there is even someone on your list who would like it if their whole gift was a donation, made in their name. Dig deep.
I believe that each of you are going to give the absolute biggest gifts that your personal finances will allow, whether that is one dollar -or a thousand, and I'm not going to judge that amount, or provide a list of names of those who have given, or ever reveal who gives what. I know that every family has their own strains, and their own ability to give, and that what you can manage is deeply personal. I hope every single person who reads this blog manages to do their best. Share until it feels good - or wonderful, or fantastic. Share as much as you can. Imagine yourself explaining to your family or children about this, imagine explaining about global sharing, and then give, my lovely knitters, whatever this season means to you, and celebrate the amount of light coming into your life. I promise that it will seem a little brighter.