The past few years have seen an increasingly heated debate over the winter holiday season in the US—and most particularly over Christmas. Critics of commercialization beseech us to “Remember the reason for the season”; retailers are chastised for instructing cashiers to wish their customers the one-size-fits-all “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”; and this year Sarah Palin is busy hawking her book on what she perceives as the “war on Christmas”—waged, she says, by “angry atheists” determined to “abort” Christ from the Christmas season.
These past few years have seen an uptick in “charitable gifting”—people donating to a nonprofit in a loved one’s name rather than sending that person a physical gift. And more and more organizations are trying to get in on the deal. Not sure what to get that niece you barely know? How about sending $20 to Heifer International, so they can buy a flock of ducks for a Third World family? Or you could give the same amount to the ASPCA to feed an abandoned kitten or puppy for three weeks.