Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Boxing Day!

“December 26: Boxing Day (UK).” This entry on my birthday mystified me as a child growing up in the Midwest. Each year when the free Hallmark purse calendars appeared on the card store counter, I would flip to December 26 and wonder what the Brits were up to. A day to celebrate pugilism? To throw away boxes? It was a mystery to me. I think it was Upstairs, Downstairs that finally solved the dilemma: Boxing Day, a day to re-wrap surplus items from the Christmas haul, to give to the servants or the poor. The Edwardians understood re-gifting in spirit, if not by name.

Re-gifting emerged as a verb in the 1990s (thank-you, Seinfeld). Why re-gift on Boxing Day? First, it's the day with the most loot. (*I have to say I started this post before Christmas Eve, when I received such lovely gifts from my family. This means no re-gifting at my house, but hypothetically speaking . . . ) Second, most Ronald McDonald Houses post a wish list on their local web sites, such as this one here in town. This charity provides a free or low-cost place to stay for parents and siblings of hospitalized children. Many of these families travel long distances for medical care, and the local RMcD Houses provide a welcoming environment and much-needed financial respite. Like our own households, they have an ongoing need for everything from new sheets and towels, to AA batteries, to toiletries, to non-perishables for the kitchen. (Emphasis on “new”: save the used items for Goodwill or St. Vinny's.) They also often need gas cards as well as items suitable to give as gifts for guest family birthdays and other special occasions. A quick Google search will take you to the Ronald McDonald House in your town: and most of the houses post a Wish List prominently on their site. Donations are typically accepted during normal business hours.

Today's mitzvah: Google the local Ronald McDonald House and check out their Wish List, for your own Boxing Day.

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