First, I begin with a retelling of the Christmas story. I am not a theologian, so please, be gentle.
Now, depending on your perspective, the mythology, the allegory or the history:
Mary and Joseph were a broke newlywed couple and she was pregnant. They had to go to Bethlehem to pay their taxes. They got there and were so broke and there were no rooms, so they had to stay in a stable, where she had her baby. Angels showed up to shepherds, who visited and brought gifts. At the same time, astrologers (magi or wise men in the vernacular) saw a star and analyzed it as the birth of the king of the Jews. They followed the star to where Mary and Joseph were staying (having left the stable). They brought gifts with them. On their way to visit Mary and Joseph and the baby, they visited Herod, the king of Israel at the time and when Herod heard that this baby was supposed to be king of the Jews, he could not let the baby grow up. An angel told Mary and Joseph to get out and go to Egypt to protect the baby. The wise men knew that they would have to go to Egypt, so the gifts they brought were the best salable products for a journey – gold, frankincense and myrrh. Those gifts provided the wherewithall for the family to live in Egypt while Herod killed off all the baby boys.
It is important to note that the gifts provided were to provide for the needs of the family. They were not meant to feed into any type of greed. That is the true spirit of Christmas.
After many years of giving gifts to my brothers, inlaws and parents, I realized that I rarely figured out what they needed, the right sizes etc. Our gifts took up space in their homes or closets and nobody was really happy with what I was giving. I didn’t need or want what we were getting either, and it became clutter. Furthermore, everybody in the family was better off than we were, and if they really needed something they bought it. There had to be a better way.
Then I heard about giving goats. You don’t have to give goats, you can give chickens, cows, etc. I didn’t want to give birds because bird flu was becoming a worldwide worry, and cows are hard to maintain. Hence goats. Besides, the goats are so cute! I found out that one goat’s milk will provide enough for a family of four, the fleece will clothe that family and the fertilizer can help grow enough vegetables to feed them. The first born of the herd goes back into the program and subsequent goats help build a herd so the family will have prosperity. I talked it over with the family and we all agreed to give each other goats.
Since then, the price of goats has risen from $75 apiece to $125, which I can’t afford, so I either need to find a new source or figure out a different way to give that will have similar results. As I see the need in this country, I wonder if that is a better idea. I have a few personal requirements for goat money:
Not political (separation of spirit and state)
Has to last (not one meal because people have to eat, not flowers because they die in 3 days)
Has to be useful in helping someone survive over the long haul.