From the Pen of the President: The Gift

​In so much of the world, this is the season of giving. Whether you and your family/friends celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Pancha Ganapati, Yule—or nothing at all—it likely encompasses some type of giving. We LOVE giving gifts, and we’re pretty crazy about getting them, too. A well-chosen gift can make a statement of love unlike anything else. But you know how this typically goes…after a day or two, kids (from 1 to 92) have moved on to something else. Rarely does one gift change a person’s life. Enter the trendy concept of “experiential giving.” It seems like I am hearing this expression everywhere I turn, and I rather like it. Experiential giving is the concept of giving a gift to someone you love that means spending time together. This seems more heartfelt to me; trading in the time it takes to find the perfect gift, for spending time with that “perfect” friend. We could certainly use a little more of this!

In my world there are two very different things I think about this time of year; two things that elicit emotions that are poles apart for me. Perhaps you will connect with one or both of these. For me and my family, who celebrate Christmas, the first brings me feelings of Peace, Joy, and Love—the things our carols are full of and that we hope and pray to hang onto into the New Year. In this time of gift giving, my mind reels around the mysterious concept that God gave the world an incredible Gift when Jesus was born—Himself! By our choices, we have opted to burn the bridge between us and our lovesick, ever-pursuing Creator; but this was just NOT okay with Him, and so He devised a plan…which began with the birth of a Son. He is NUTS about us, and that is mind boggling to me, but fills me with hope and a sense of incredible value. The second is NOTHING like the first, and takes me down a bit of a melancholy road. In this season where nearly everybody, everywhere is giving, it’s hard to believe that anyone would not receive something—from at least somebody. The hard truth is that those who wind up in prison sometimes lose EVERYTHING! Not only are they not going to get any presents this year—no material tokens of anyone’s affection; but they are likely never coming anywhere near those “experiential gifts”—a hug from a visitor, encouraging words from a letter or call. Not this year…and perhaps never again! Prison is hard, but there are particular aspects of it which are heartrending and deplorable!

Sometimes crazy things happen at this special time of year: we feel joy—or sadness—for no apparent reason; suddenly we are inundated with obligatory, meaningless gifts (let’s hear it for white elephant parties!!); we have a strange desire to give things to total’s like we are temporarily abducted by aliens—alas, this uncharacteristic love for humanity all but forgotten only a few weeks later. I’d like to ask you to consider giving a year-end gift to Pharaoh’s Daughter—from yourself, your family, or even in someone else’s honor. A gift to Pharaoh’s Daughter is an experiential gift that makes a lasting difference. Helping a child go beyond the statistics of repeat offending, and making it possible for an ex-offender mother to be a thriving, contributing member of society are gifts that matter...a living legacy, continuing to give, even beyond the giver.

Thanks for listening and whether to Pharaoh’s Daughter, another charity, or to your own loved ones, give well this season…and make a difference in somebody’s life! Susan Henson