The Best Christmas Gift

December 28, 2006 By: erik Category: Family, Musings 1,496 views

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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

  • Betsy

    Erik, what a wonderful post. I have printed it out to share with your Grandpa. This year I sent animals to three sets of nieces and nephews. I also sent each family a copy of Beatrice’s Goat, a book about the impact of a goat on an African family and ultimately the whole community. It has an afterword by Hilary Clinton. I suspect that those kids are mostly too young to appreciate such a gift, but maybe eventually they too, from the comfort of their middle class homes will come to realize this can be “The Best Christmas Gift” as their Cousin Erik has.

  • Thanks! Good luck surviving your years being “Weird Goat-Giving Aunt Betsy”. Your mother would be proud.

    Here’s the Amazon link for anyone interested in that book: Beatrice’s Goat

  • Uncle Neil

    Bummer! I got all the way to checkout in Heifer International but I could not direct my Trio of Rabbits to myself. I am hungry! I have raised, cultured, killed most of these animals myself but have none now. I would really like to have one male and two female breeding ready New Zealand White rabbits. I love home grown eggs but hate home grown meat chickens. Home grown rabbit is the the best, most economical, tasty, tendy meat you can do for yourself. I have been willing to spend sixty USD for several years to replace good rabbit stock. They are very shippable so let me know if you find a good source I may have missed on the internet.
    Day old chicks are so much easier to find. Barb’s multiple packs of 2 pounds of honey bees via United States Post mail worked pretty good.
    Nothing like fresh home cooked rabbit kidney!

  • Rabbit is a really common food in Spain. Any local butcher has them. As you probably know, Marga’s father raises them for food. I chuckle every time at the irony that they are most often cooked with carrots.

    Something tells me that those are third world prices, and that you can’t really get a bunny threesome for $60 in the first world. Surely a cow costs more than $500 in the US.

    I have no idea about buying rabbits online. doesn’t seem to be an actual website. Is your average floppy-ear from the local pet shop not tasty enough?

  • Uncle Neil

    There is a 4h project girl in Superior, WI. that with her parents have rabbits for sale but at the right time is a part of the question. I suppose one of the advantages of these non-profit gift giving sites is that you don’t have to give a thought into how to find a truly appropriate and healthy animal which is very difficult. I checked the checkers sites and they do not go that far to determine whether it is an appropriate donation for the average giver. The administrative costs don’t seem out of average. The CEO gets 200,000 which is probably not that bad. When you get into it indicates that if the gift receiver doesn’t need the gift they are encouraged, xxxx, to give an animal to someone they know that may need one. I have not, in 4 minutes, found anything negative about Heifer. I have previously purchased breeding ready trio for forty dollars USD. But at that time I had connections with others. Now I do not.
    Neil Rasmussen I love to eat rabbit bodies. Much better than larger bodies.

  • Nice…great post