An Advent Challenge

Here’s an Advent calendar I can get behind.

I challenge you all to do the same. Sorry, no chocolates.
(I know, it’s a late start but don’t be deterred! You can catch up!)

You’ll need a jar or small box to put coins in. Enjoy!

Dec. 1 = For every finger and toe on your children’s hands and feet, intact and unblemished by landmines - add 5 cents. (Landmines have killed or injured more than 70,000 Afghans in the past to decades!)

Dec 2 = For every female in your family who is free to go to school, pursue a career, or walk openly in the street, add 50 cents.

Dec 3 = Add 10 cents for every time you’ve vote in a democratically held election.

Dec 4 = Add $1 if your drinking water is safe. (An estimated 5 million people die from illnesses caused by drinking poor quality water, 1.1 billion people lack access to safe water!)

Dec 5 = Add 25 cents for every shower or bath taken by members of your family today. (2.5 billion people lack access to water for sanitation!)
Dec 6** = Add $1 for everyone you know with HIV/AIDS. (270,000 children die of AIDS every year!)

Dec 7 = Add 50 cents if you can name your family doctor. Add $1 if you’ve paid a visit this year.

Dec 8 = Add five cents for every year of your life untouched by civil war or conflict.

Dec 9 = If you live above sea level, add $1. (WHO estimates 150,000 people die every year of rising waters!)

Dec 10 = If you have flood insurance, add $1.
Dec 11** = Add 25 cents for every toy gun in your house, including video games.
Dec 12** = Add 25 cents for every time you’ve called 911.

Dec 13 = If you’ve had a permanent address for more than 6 years, add 50 cents. If you own your own home, add $1.
Dec 14** = If you have open access to information through newspapers, radio, tv or internet, add $1.

Dec 15 = Add 50 cents if you’ve ever written a letter to the editor. Add $1 if it was published.

Dec 16 = Add one cent for every book that you own. If you own more than 100 books, add $2.

Dec 17 = Add 50 cents for anyone in your family or circle that serves as police, fire, ambulance, armed forces. (Now, call them up and say “Thank you!”)

Dec 18 = Add 50 cents for everyone of your children who attends a publicly funded school. (An estimated one billion adults are illiterate, two thirds are women!)

Dec 19 = Add $1 if you’ve ever sought legal council.
Dec 20** = Add $1 if you’ve ever been called to jury duty. Add $2 if you’ve been privileged enough to serve.

Dec 21 = On this, the darkest day of the year, add two cents for every lightbulb in your house. Don’t forget those Christmas lights!

Dec 22 = If you’re free to visit friends and family over the holidays, add $1.

Dec 23 = Add $1 if you’ve sung carols this season, add $2 if it was in public.

Dec 24 = When the stockings are hung, add 25 cents for every gift under the tree.

Dec 25 = If your family celebrates with a sumptuous feast, add $5.

Dec 26 = If you don’t recycle boxes and wrappings, add $1.

Dec 27 = Add $1 if you had fast food today. (1 billion people suffer from obesity in the first world, in the third world 1 billion are starving!)

Dec 28 = If you have a drug plan, add $1.

Dec 29 = If you have a pension plan, add $2.

Dec 30 = If you have ever collected employment insurance or disability benefits, add $2.

Dec 31 = Add $5 if you host or attend a New Year’s Party.

Jan 1 = Add 10 cents for everyone you call to wish a Happy New Year!

Jan 2 = Add $1 for every member of your family who received a flu shot this year.

Jan 3 = Add 50 cents for every member of your family to outlive 70 years. (In Zambia, life expectancy dropped from 44 yrs to 33 yrs between 1990 and 2000!)

Jan 4 = Consider how fortunate you are, then consider that 50% of the world’s children live in poverty!

**Jan 5 **= Sit down and consider where you would like to send the contents of your Advent container. Oxfam? Unicef?

Jan 6 = (The Epiphany) Add up the contents of your container and send a cheque to your favorite charity.

(Not original, but not copyrighted!)

So, who’s with me?

I’m in. I’m up to $3.00 already. I have a jar at home that’s perfect for this…

I’m in. I love giving to charity and this is nice, it gives you something to think about every day.

This makes absolutely no sense at all.

Is the object of this excercise to punish us, by making us pay for our vices? The one that asks us to cough up money for toy guns would suggest so. “Bad parents, you let your kids play with toy guns! Just for that, you pay more!”

Or is the point that, the more fortunate we are, the more we should give to charity? Okay, I can buy thta… but why punish people who take care of themselves? If I go to the doctor when I feel bad, but my neighbor ignores illnesses and just waits them out, should he really be rewarded for his laziness and lack of concern for his health? If I took my son to get a flu vaccine, while a neighbor blew it off, saying “That’s just a rip off,” why should I be “fined” for taking care of my kid?

Or… if I call 911 a lot, doesn’t it stand to reason I’m a poor person in a high-crime neighborhood? Why should I have to pay MORE because I get robbed a lot?

Why should people pay more if they know persons with AIDS? Doesn’t that mean homophobes who never associate with any gay people get to pay LESS?
I already try to give generously to worthy charities. But this list strikes me as silly and poorly thought out.

I see it this way: This exercise is to raise your awareness in different areas.

  1. A tangible statement about how much we benefit by our society [ having access to health care (so I show my gratitude that I have a family doctor that I can use by adding money), freedom to practice my religion (by publicly singing religious songs) etc]. Many peopl ein my own country do not have access to these services, so I should show gratitude that I do.

  2. Acknowledging the suffering in the world and providing money to those who are trying to help (Know AIDS patients? Send money to people trying to make the world better, even if it’s not for AIDS research per se)

  3. Acknowledging basic human rights we have that others do not have access to (education for women, voting etc).

Advent calendars are designed to prepare you for the holidays. Specifically, they are designed to help you prepare your family (small children in particular) for the Catholic holidays of Christmas and ultimately the Epiphany. Part of that is setting aside time to reflect on your blessings. Blessings are difficult to accept without realizing how much better your situation is than other people in the world.

No - it’s designed to get you to not take for granted the luxury of having vices. Your points about “why should I have to pay because I go to the doctor” are ridiculous. No one’s making you do anything. The fact is that people with the luxury of healthcare should recognize what a gift that is.

It’s probably poorly worded - but the meaning is not cryptic. If you can call 911, then you’re not living under some totalitarian, crimelord-ruled craphole corner of the world. Cough up a buck and donate it to the family in Somalia that gets beat up by the police every time they stir up trouble.

I don’t know anyone with AIDS. But I do know plenty of people that work for AIDS-related charities. And when I read, “Add $1 for everyone you know with AIDS/HIV” it makes me want to send their organization a small donation. Why? Because I’m not made of stone, I know they do great work, I know their organization needs it, and I know that I am fortunate to not need their services.

You needn’t participate if you find it foolish or unworkable in some way. Truly, it’s not for everyone, I get that.

As I was posting it I thought that maybe some would have problems, Dopers being nitpickers and all.

Honestly, though, I thought I would be challenged on the statistics, not the intent.

I just thought it was a nice change from chocolates and pictures of reindeer!

This is lovely - a wonderful way to remember how much we have to be thankful for! Thanks for posting it.

I’m in too. Love the concept!

I understood it as being more about thinking about (and giving in appreciation of) the freedoms and privileges we enjoy that some others elsewhere in the world do not.

I thought maybe this one was something to do with child soldiers. Maybe I’m wrong though.

Yeah, I wondered about that one too.

To me it means the only guns your children see are the toy kind. Not real guns, used to kill neighbours and family. For a lot of children there are no ‘toy’ guns only the real thing, and they know all too well what they’re for, having been witness to their use.

I don’t think it’s supposed to be a punishment, nor is it supposed to suggest that all of those things are vices. Having all your fingers and toes, voting in democratically held elections, calling 911 (assuming you have a good reason for doing so), taking baths or showers, owning a home, living in a time and place where civil war does not affect you, and getting flu shots are clearly not vices.

They are all, however, things that not everybody in the world has or can do.

I’d go broke on Dec. 6. Over the years I have known thousands of people with HIV/AIDS.

Maybe you’re supposed to be grateful that you don’t live in a neighborhood where things like this happen to your kids on a regular basis.

“Counting your blessings” by comparing your life in this way is perilously close to wallowing in the nisery of others. Squicks me out, and not the least bit joyful.