'Tis the Season?

The holiday season is upon us... the special time of year that's meant for kindness, love, and most of all... goodwill.

But honestly... kindness, love, and goodwill suffer more during the holidays... than any other time of year.

First of all, I don't think we should have just one time of year for goodwill. In my opinion... that should be a year-round gig.

But regardless, why does the "season for giving" always seem to result in fewer acts of giving to those who truly need it? That's my biggest issue with this time of year, and it breaks my heart to pieces.

From a charitable standpoint, donations suffer immensely during the holidays. In addition, volunteers are few-and-far-between. Giving-back and helping-out? Well... that can wait until January.

Because... instead, finances and time are exhausted on buying tons of gifts for family and friends... who obviously deserve gifts... but who don't actually need gifts. And more than half the time, an un-needed gift is purchased for a loved one... just to say, "Here... I got you something."

Am I lying? I wish I was.

Further, children who have every toy they could ever want --and then some-- are gifted with even more toys. Family members who --quite honestly-- don't need or ask for anything... must receive gifts... to somehow prove "love."

All the while, there are children around the globe without toys. There are people in this country without food and shelter. There are dogs in your town... without hope.

Here's my opinion: the season for giving should be dedicated to those who so-desperately need the gift of giving. To those who can only dream of gifts... simple things, like food, warmth, and shelter. To those who won't receive one single gift this holiday season... if not for you.

By teaching our children that the holidays are only about what they receive... instead of what they give to others... we deny them of one of the greatest experiences on this earth: the joy of making a difference.

And by setting familial expectations at nothing more than giving and receiving pointless gifts... instead of giving needed items to those who need them... we deny ourselves of that same joy.

This holiday season... my greatest hope is that families will begin to change their focus... from giving to one another... to giving to others. Maybe a family will decide to volunteer together this Christmas, instead of opening unnecessary presents. Maybe friends will decide to donate to charities, instead of exchanging useless gift cards.

Maybe the season of giving... can become the season of giving. It all starts... with you.


  1. I totally agree with you! if I were in a better financial situation I would love to donate but as for now I can only volunteer at my local humane society

  2. Couldn't agree more

  3. Right on, Ashley! I think goodwill should be something you don't have to think about, you just do it! I have been out of work for a while and cannot contribute money, unfortunately. But abolutely would, if able! I try to volunteer when I can and at the very least, I share at least one animal per day on my FB wall that is looking for a home, in hopes that someone will adopt them; and advocate in hopes it will save them until they are adopted. I know you have helped open the eyes and hearts of many people to the overwhelming status of stray, abused and forgotten animals and you should feel proud of your gift that keeps on giving and giving . . . Happy Holidays to You! ---T

  4. I read your blog religiously and think about you often! I am not in a position to adopt but am able to donate. It's not much but hope it helps! Thanks for everything you do and more!! I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and the pups at Lucky Dog do as well!

  5. Absolutely agree!!

  6. I am in the process of changing my yearly donations to existing humongous animal rescue sites, to yours. I called my credit card company to have it automatically sent to your organization, and it's going to take longer than I expected. How is it that I can give my information to a charitable organization and they are able to get that deduction off my credit card almost immediately, and they are saying it's going to take 10 days to get the authorization letter, and once I give them the information, it's going to take another 4-6 weeks? I just don't get it.

  7. Thank you for sharing. As soon as I am able, when my financial situation improves, a donation will be on its way. For now I'm just another unemployed American who sees what they want to do but simply doesn't have the means. >^..^<

  8. Well said, Ashley!
    I feel very fortunate to have several youngsters in the area who, instead of wanting to receive gifts for their birthdays/holidays, they ask family and friends to donate to the animal shelter. Either in items that the shelter needs--kitty litter, puppy chow, etc--or monetary needs. It doesn't have to be much; it's the thought that counts. We need more people who practice "goodwill" year-round like the youngsters who would rather help an animal in need than receive a gift of their own.

    Happy Holidays! Be safe!

  9. This is so true, Ashley. I love the holiday season but I don't like the fact that we're expected to give gifts just because it's Christmas, especially to people we barely know or care about. I'm trying to avoid going to Christmas parties because they are all about exchanging gifts and there are actually 2 upcoming parties that I'm trying to avoid going because we're expected to bring gifts. So senseless. I don't really care that much about the people. I don't even know more than half of them usually, so why would I waste my time attending those events and waste money buying gifts for people I don't know? I will send Lucky Dog a gift when I receive my bonus and hopefully soon because I also need to shop for the people I actually do care about, my Dad and my brother, who don't have that much at all because things are so expensive back home. Please expect the gift this month. Can you tell me any other small rescue groups/organizations or no-kill shelters that are desperate for donations? Would like to send them gifts too. Thank you, Ashley.

  10. Perfectly stated - and with none of the scorching sarcasm so prevalent in the tone of my posts when addressing those who go broke 'proving their love.' So noted. Thank you, Ashley!

  11. Cindi Honeywell YoungDecember 6, 2011 at 7:08 PM

    You just gave me a great idea. I am going to make cute little Christmas cards for friends and family that say, "I donated to Lucky Dog Rescue on your behalf" or something like that and then donate the money I would have spent on their gift to your rescue. I did something very similar for my birthday but without the cute card. I asked my friends and family to donate to you what they would have spent on me. A couple hundred dollars were donated. This might invoke the spirit of giving within other folks. It's worth a shot, right? Thanks for inspiring me.

  12. In the last month - that counts as the holiday season, right? - I've donated far more to you and ARF and the ASPCA and my local shelters than I have spent on holiday gifts. While in some ways I agree with your point, the tone of your post annoys me. I'll continue to give of my time and money, but to my local shelter.

  13. Very well stated. I feel the same and wish it was as easy as ppl realizing the real issues in the world besides what once a year gift ppl decide to share.... I have asked for ppl to volunteer and donate to shelters. I have ask my family for dog food and cedar shavings..lol Ashley I admire u so much and hope to meet u and ur lucky dogs one day. May this share reach many and open the hearts of everyone. My heart is always with the animals who give me the Christmas feeling each day, so why would I ever not make their day special on holidays and everyday. I Love my animals I Love ur heart and may ur blessings be mulitplied....and lives saved all over. Colleen Byrd Granitefalls NC

  14. @Michele,

    If you're currently donating to charities, then I'm not quite sure why you'd be annoyed with this post?? If it doesn't apply to you... then there's really no reason to get irritated with my "tone." Right?

    This post was intended to be positive... as a reminder of what it's all about. If that annoys you... that's okay. But it wasn't intended to be negative.

    On that note... the "tone" of your comment seemed much more negative than anything I had to say.

    There's really no need to tell me that you'll be donating elsewhere. You're welcome to donate to any charity you like... no need to inform me that it won't be mine. That doesn't hurt me. It hurts my dogs. They didn't write this post. I did.

    Regardless, I'm pleased that you're giving to a shelter, and I thank you for that.

  15. Ashley, all of your posts inspire me. I am fostering my first dog, a 5 month pit bull who without a rescue and foster would have never took another breath all because she had treatable mange. She's been a joy and I could think of no greater gift than seeing her on Christmas morning loving life! You made me want to make a difference and it's the best feeling in the world. Thank you.

  16. @Meagan,
    You just made my day!!! That's amazing! THANK YOU!!!

    I LOVE that idea! You=my heart :)

  17. I have to wonder what is wrong in a person's life when they see negatives in places where there is none. In places where not one single other person sees it. I also wonder about those who feel the uncontrollable desire to announce they won't be donating, "liking" a page, person or event.

    Does that announcement make you feel better Michele? Did you prove what ever point you felt needed to be made? Is you heart now whole again after you decided to degrade and hurt someone?

  18. I don't think that kindness, love and goodwill suffer during the holidays. I actually see a spike in charitable donations where I live. There are toy drives, coat drives, food drives, holiday raffles etc. And I agree that those are the kind of things that need to continue throughout the year, not just during the holidays.

    I understand that this blog was intended to be positive, but I do see how some people could be offended. All families have a right to celebrate Christmas however they see fit whether it's gift giving among themselves and/or charitable giving. Can we all do more? Probably. But the implication that gifts are only given to prove love or that they're unnecessary and useless is hurtful.

    I feel great joy in sharing modest gifts with my family and an even greater joy sharing what I can with those in need.

  19. Geeze, can you come here and have a word with my other half? For his family, bigger better gifts = the more they love you, which totally baffles me, as they do not express their feelings AT ALL. Every year gets more and more out of control as they try to "outdo" the year before.

    In my family, the holidays were about spending time together: baking, decorating, making crafts and I miss that more than anything. I'd give up every dollar he spends on me to have an old-fashioned gift free Christmas. I'm e-mailing him this...maybe he'll see part of why I'd love to take the presents out of the picture.

  20. No one should feel the need to defend their actions here. If someone is offended by this post... then maybe it's because they feel guilty about their actions. Otherwise, there's really no reason at all to get defensive about this particular post.

    I'm an honest person. I wrote this post from my heart. If my words offended someone, it's not because I tried to do so.

    When looking at the massive level of holiday spending in this country, charitable actions only represent a small percentage. That's my point. It should be the other way around!!!

    Honestly... it's just sad that people want to waste time being offended by this post.. instead of feeling compelled to actually make a difference. And that makes me very, very sad.

  21. *Also, I never tried to imply that ALL gift giving is unnecessary. That's not what I said.

    If you re-read the post, I referred to those who don't NEED anything, but we still BUY them something... just because we're "supposed to."

    All the while, there are so many people and animals out there suffering... who truly NEED help. As people waste money on unnecessary gift purchases... those funds could instead be used to help fulfill those desperate needs of others.

    Sure... everyone is free to spend the holidays as they see fit. But I don't understand how anyone can feel good about it... when they deny what the entire season is meant to be about.

    Seriously... what would Jesus do?

  22. I think people need to redirect this "habit" of buying tokens of "love" and teach their own children random acts of kindness which go so much farther and need no fancy wrapping paper.

  23. Hello and Happy Holidays Ashley!

    I follow pet pardons on facebook and find myself reading your blog when I really should be working =) Just the other day I sat here and cried over some of the post you have but all for a good reason.

    I too am a firm believer that Christmas has become a "shopping" holiday instead of what it should be, a time for family, love and sharing. Don't get me wrong I have purchased my fair share of Christmas presents and there is a good chance I will buy more. But I have also made sure not to forget others who are in need.

    Recently I dropped off 4 bags of groceries at our local food bank. I spent all of $10 and about 2 hours clipping coupons for the trip. Was all the food top of the line or name brand? No it wasn't but it was decent food that would fill an empty belly for sure.

    Our family also sat last weekend making dog toys to donate to our local animal rescue. Not only did we spend very little (again around $10) for the things to make these toys we also got to send some family time together. It was a win-win for everyone.

    So many people forget during the holidays (and sadly some all year long) that it takes very little to help someone else. There are so many things you can do, make or part with that would mean the world to someone else.

    Can I donate money? No but my family and I have chosen other very low cost ways to be able to share our love.

    Good Bless you and everyone else who will take the time this season to help even just one person or animal in need.

    Merry Christmas!

  24. Actually I think it's a great blog!!! You can always ask my husband when he says what do I want for Christmas/birthday/anniversary, the first words out of my mouth is "a donation to a animal charity of my choice"... In fact for my anniversary gift this year was to resuce a dog and bring him to his forever home in Maryland and my hubby came along for the ride. It was so exciting!! we are not millionaires by any means, but I am so blessed in my life with a great job, a wonderful family and wonderful pets that I am able to spoil to heck. The donations or giving my time is so worthwhile....thank you for all you do and Merry Christams / Happy New Year!

  25. I have read several of your posts and am amazed at your gift with words. You said nothing to even waste your time with a response. It is your blog, your opinion and again, I am in awe at how eloquently you speak the truth.
    We have become such a superficial country that the true meaning is lost on many, not all, but it does seem to be about how much we spend/spent instead of spending it with each other.
    Thank you Ashley for your words which I can choose to enjoy or "click" you're gone off my page.

  26. I agree with you. This year my mom and I started volunteering at our local shelter and rescue group. It is hard for us to think about wasting money for Christmas on relatives that don't appreciate it anyway they just expect it. I would much rather spend my Christmas at the shelter giving my time to the animals but since they are closed to the public that day I am not allowed. Another act that also makes me sick around Christmas is the horrible act of holiday surrenders. I didn't know this until I started volunteering but apparently a lot more people surrender their pets around Christmas and Thanksgiving than any other time of year. People just can't be bothered with them, they don't want to waste money to feed them when they can spend that money on needless gifts, or they think looking at that old dog or cats on Christmas morning is just too sad so they surrender them to die. It is disgust and true. My local shelter is now so full of cats and dogs they are having to do euthanasias that wouldn't need to be done if people didn't just throw away their pets. It puts a toll on the volunteers that love these animals and does not put any of us in the holiday spirit.

  27. I agree with every word of your blog Ashley! Thank you for putting things in perspective and reminding me that there is sooo much more than the materialism of Christmas. I battle it every year. This year I am asking that anyone in our family that wishes to give me a gift, to please donate to LDR.. next year I will have a card that says I donated in the person's name. Both of these ideas came from your readers, and thanks to them both! I'm so sorry some don't understand the point you are making with your blog, it's as if they are trying to find something wrong with it. I can only imagine they find something wrong with everything. As you see, so many more of us appreciate you and your words than those who are offended. You are an inspiration to us all, and Thank you for what you and your volunteers, staff and associates are doing. You're the greatest!

  28. I agree Ashley. My boyfriend and I don't make a lot of money and the last few years I have not been able to buy gifts for my parents and grown siblings for Christmas. It was really embarrassing, and kind of made me mad that I felt so inadequate. A lot of them are materialistic and I know that I will never be able to afford the kind of stuff they "want." This year what I really really really really want for Christmas is a shelter dog, but I have little hope of it actually happening due to our situation. At least I can still go to the dog shelter and love on them like they are mine. :) If anyone here prays please pray that I can adopt a shelter dog soon.

  29. I couldn't agree more! Every year my significant other & I take the money that we would have spent on one another (for something that we don't NEED) and take a little trip to Pet Smart where we buy lots of necessities for the Rescue that we adopted our little baby from... this is my absolute FAVORITE tradition! Also, I have a friend who recently sent YOUR info to her friends & family saying, "this year I would like you to make a donation to The Lucky Dog Rescue in lieu of buying me gifts." Gotta love her!

    Just ignore those who didn't get the point of this blog. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said there was some obvious "guilt" behind all the negativity! Keep up the GREAT work Ashley, you are my favorite!!

  30. hey GUYS NEED HELP! My neighbor is moving and I have 4 dogs who despreatly need homes for the holidays! Jazzie is Terrier mix F brown,Clyde is Pitbull M white and red,blacky F pitbull,Aphrodite F Pitbull White w/black circles around eyes. Please these dogs are gonna be taken to the pound by the end of the week, they can no longer afford to take care of dogs as well! Please Give these dogs a home and a Best friend all dogs deserve! I have all information if interested only serious inquieries only!Dogs located in WV. And if not atleast re-post to all your friends .. do a good deed this Christmas Holiday!

  31. @Lindsey..... you should snap some photos & post them to Pet Pardons. I recently did that with some dogs whose owner passed & they found homes together!


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