Time for another guest blog– by Leah Singer. What do you think? Do you agree, or do you think she’s the Grinch incarnate? Let us know in the comments!

When most people think of December, the usual thoughts of holidays, baking, greeting cards, and décor come to mind. But December also comes with another side; a side that I have come to name, the season of forced giving.

As we all know, this is the time of year that includes solicitations of money, clothing, toys, and food. It’s not uncommon for the number of holiday greeting cards in the mailbox to equal the number of requests for monetary gifts.

Before I go further, let me explain that I am NOT against philanthropy and giving to others in need. I am NOT advocating that people stop donating. What bothers me is that December seems to have become the time when you are expected to donate to a dozen charities and buy new toys for every worthy cause out there. From the schools to the workplace to the local grocery stores, every organization takes up a cause. And while all of these are worth causes, it comes down to two issues for me.

First, I resent the fact that December seems to be the catch-all month for donating and it is rarely focused upon the rest of the year. My family and I make it a priority to give all year long. Every two months we donate clothing, books, baby items, toys and the like (many of which are new items) to Goodwill and Salvation Army. When my 4-year-old daughter, Sophie, and I clean out her clothing drawers every month, we talk about donating her clothing and toys to other kids who really need it. She has come to understand this and even suggests things to donate to other kids. We also give to several organizations from January through December because I feel it is so important to give back monetarily as well.

Secondly, the forced giving mentality really puts those of us who do not have a lot of extra money on the spot. I am not rolling in cash. My husband and I do not buy each other birthday and holiday gifts. And we do not buy Sophie these things either. It is important to us to instill in her now the importance and experiences surrounding the holidays, rather than the materialistic emphasis on getting and gifts. This is not to say we do not buy Sophie things throughout the year. I have been known to pick up a few books for her, or a new toy and pair of shoes. And that’s how I like it – giving that is not attached to holidays.

My daughter’s school recently participated in an Embrace-a-Family program with the caveat that the items we donated needed to be newly purchased. I resent the fact that many of the requested items included new king sized comforters, vacuums and expensive video game equipment when – in reality – I can’t afford these things for myself. And no matter what people say, there is an unspoken resentment toward those that do not participate in such programs.

I guess my point is this: Why can’t organizations and the community give all year-round? Why do we have to take December as the month to focus on giving? Why not instill the importance of helping others throughout the year? Is society trying to make itself feel better in December because most people spend beyond their means on gifts and toys for the holidays?

So on this December day – with the holidays slowly approaching – I will leave you with one suggestion. Consider making one of those December donations in the summer when the culture of giving is at the lowest point during the year. I guarantee a July donation will help a family who can’t wait until December.

Happy Holidays!

Leah Singer is a freelance writer and blogs about family, motherhood, traditions, cooking, writing, and other such topics at Leah’s Thoughts. Blogging is a way for Leah to journal, share ideas, essays, musings, frustrations, recipes, funny stories, and – most importantly – exercise her lifelong passion for writing. Read more about Leah at: www.leahsthoughts.com.