By Barbara Falconer Newhall
The holidays are upon us, and it’s getting way too late to put a package in the mail in time for the celebrations ahead. But it’s not too late to give patriotic holiday gifts to friends and family troubled at the prospect of an incoming president who intends to (or might accidentally) throw a monkey wrench into the 229-year-old American experiment.
The idea for social action holiday gifts came from my Millennial kids, who don’t seem to be all that interested in receiving the usual shirts, sweaters and jewelry that I love to shop for in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Heading their wish lists this year were requests for what I’m calling patriotic holiday gifts — donations in their honor to organizations that will help keep the U.S. of A. and its institutions and ideals on an even keel during the stormy years ahead.
They were asking for donations to places like the ACLU and Our Children’s Trust and subscriptions to news media doing solid investigative journalism like the New York Times and the Washington Post.
I don’t know how many Millennials would describe themselves as patriotic. It’s an old-fashioned word that, for many, suggests a closed mind, nationalism and my country, right or wrong. For me, patriotism means being stubbornly loyal to the American project and the ideals it’s been striving toward since the constitution was signed in 1787.
I believe in self-government, the rule of law, justice, equal opportunity, civil liberties and public education. I believe in keeping those spacious skies spacious and those purple mountain majesties purple. I believe in freedom of speech, religion and the press. I think that makes me patriotic, so right here, right now, I’m claiming the term patriot for me and mine.
I hope you will join me in giving friends and family the gift of a United States of America that’s good to go for another 227 years.
Here’s my list of patriotic holiday gifts. It includes charities, businesses and political action groups. Some contributions are tax deductible, some not. Please add your own favorite patriotic holiday gifts by clicking on the word “comments” above.
Meanwhile, Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Kwanzaa. Happy New Year. And a Jolly Winter Solstice.
My Favorite Cause: Healthy Media and Real Journalism
- The New York Times — Support investigative journalism. Give an online subscription, or maybe the Sunday Times, home delivered.
- The Washington Post — Give a subscription. Take serious journalism seriously.
- Local Newspapers — Consider giving home delivery or an online subscription to an area newspaper — think local.
- National Public Radio — I go to NPR to remind myself of what civil discourse sounds like.
- Public Broadcasting Service — Masterpiece, of course. But also the PBS NewsHour, for reliable news Monday through Friday.
- The Newseum — The interactive museum in Washington, D.C., defends the First Amendment’s five freedoms: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition.
- The Religion News Foundation — advancing religious literacy with programs for religion journalists and the public. A hot and often misunderstood topic these days.
- The Wayback Machine — The Internet Archive is a non-profit library aiming to preserve online data and “give everyone free and universal access to all knowledge, forever.” According to MSNBC news commentator Rachel Maddow, the Wayback has captured posts by bad actors who’ve tried to expunge their incriminating sites.
More Patriotic Holiday Gifts — A Starter List
- American Civil Liberties Union — Ready to take on civil liberties violations.
- Earth Justice — Protecting wilderness and a healthy environment.
- National Organization for Women — Protecting the rights of women and girls.
- Our Children’s Trust — Youth advocating for a healthy Earth.
- Planned Parenthood — Education, activism, health care for women.
- Southern Poverty Law Center — Seeking justice for the most vulnerable Americans.
More about the worrisome political climate facing America at “Why I’ve Decided to Stop Bad-Mouthing Donald Trump.” And, on the light side, a lesson in circuitous rhetoric from a preschooler at “The (Two-Year-Old) Rhetorician at Our House.”