American in Spain

The Best Christmas Gift

December 28, 2006

Yesterday I received a goat in the mail. I came home, and there he was, nestled in the mailbox, calmly chewing on a bank statement. For more years than I can remember, my maternal grandparents have given me a goat for Christmas. I don't actually receive the goat, of course. The goat is given, in my name, to a family in the third world. A goat can be a huge source of food and income to a third world family. It's better than money, because it's sustainable!

When this tradition began, I was still a youngster in a capitalist society, and it annoyed me quite a bit that my present on Christmas should be a piece of paper saying that some people that I don't know got some animal that I'd never seen. I mean, what kind of a present is that?

The answer is that it's the best kind of present you can get. As a kid, there were toys and stuff that I wanted, but nothing that I really truly needed. And now that I'm an adult, I can buy whatever I really want. And I'm a particularly hard person to buy presents for because, if I want something, I just buy it. I don't wait around pining for it.

Think about it. Gifts from family members very rarely hit their mark. Oftentimes the gift just isn't used or isn't liked that much. And why should I ask my grandfather to waste his money on something that I probably won't use or didn't want enough to buy myself?

Granted, by giving a goat instead of a pair of socks, you won't have the object to remind you of the gift from your loved one. But come on! Do you really need an object to remember and love someone? I hope not.

I don't know if my grandparents have always done it through the same organization, but this year's goat came through Heifer International. You can buy your livestock online at their website. A goat will set you back $120, a water buffalo $250, and a heifer $500. Or if you're looking for a smaller gift, a trio of rabbits (you know how they reproduce!) is only $60.

Not only are animals a renewable and sustainable source of income and nutrition, but every family that receives an animal from Heifer International also promises to "pass on the gift" by giving one or more of the animal's offspring and knowledge to another family in need. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving!

From Heifer International's Our History page:

A Four-Footed Attack Against Hunger

A Midwestern farmer named Dan West was ladling out rations of milk to hungry children during the Spanish Civil War when it hit him.

"These children don't need a cup, they need a cow."

Next time you're struggling to think of a gift to give someone, and that person isn't too materialistic, consider giving an animal to a third world country.

Now have a look at these cuties...

Goat Face

Baby Goat