I want to encourage everyone to give this holiday season.
I am more than well aware that money is tight for everyone. Many of us are having enough trouble just keeping our living expenses covered, and to be asked to give what little money we have to another person is almost immeasurably inconceivable. However, I want to share some personal experience here.
When I was a little girl, things were often tight for my family, but my parents worked hard to make sure there were things under the tree for us. However, one year in particular is so memorable for me. I have no idea of what our financial situation was at the time, and really, it does not matter. One evening in the days before Christmas, my family milling around the house in our usual manner, the doorbell rang. Company being unusual after dark, my brother and I ran to answer the door. Upon opening it, we discover no person on the porch, but instead, two big boxes, wrapped it the shining foil wrapping that my family could never afford, and adorned with ribbons and bows! I was confused as to how or why there would be gifts on the porch, and why the giver would not want to be known. Inside one was the Fischer Price Parking Garage! I am not sure that I recall what was in the other, but I know my brother and I had those gifts for years. To this day, I still do not know for sure who rang our doorbell that night, though there was some family speculation. Even though I was so very young, I do remember the swelling of my heart (I was an adult before I was able to define what that feeling was) that a stranger could be so filled with love for others as to do something so hugely generous!
When my own children were small, on four different occasions we were blessed with such love and generosity when their dad was ill and often in the hospital! One year we loaded up all the gifts and celebrated in the hospital. One year a family at our church, through another family, anonymously provided gifts for the kids. To this day, each of my kids has an ornament that hangs on the tree, a gift from a generous and loving stranger, and a reminder of the kindness of a stranger.
As a result, no matter our dire circumstances, we as a family sponsor a name from a giving tree! One year, we had a birthday party; we rented the local pool for a few hours, and had the guests bring gifts for others: one of my kids sponsored the local food bank, one Toys for Tots, and the other the local fire department teddy bear patrol. What a joy, as a mom, to take my kids to the different locations to they could present their efforts!
We have sponsored names from giving trees, usually choosing a name that closely fits the ages of my children. We usually work together, and plan what we want to do for the person. We have sponsored whole families through work collaborations, and alone in prosperous years. Last year I crocheted 15 scarves to go in gift baskets at a women's shelter. This year finances are again tight, but since this is an important tradition for my children and me, we used this week’s grocery money to help provide Christmas for a little boy.
Some people give out of abundance, some give out of gratitude, some out of reciprocation, some give out of love, and some give for the spirit of the season. It is so important to instill the spirit of giving, I like to think that this should happen all year around, and not just because of this particular season, but this winter season lends itself so well to it!
Some of us can give a lot, and some of us cannot. But if you can spare some change, drop it in a Salvation Army Kettle, or a dollar in the Toys For Tots can, or a can of soup to the food bank ... no matter how small your contribution, know that it is strengthened by others that are giving from the pennies they have ... there is strength in numbers.
Have you ever paid for the lunch or coffee of the person behind you in the drive through??? Ever had that done for you?? This morning, I watched a man pay for his coffee with a gift card, and there was a little left on the card, so he gave it to the lady behind him!
No matter your reason, no matter your ability, the important thing is to open your heart, and share from it. The abundance is from your heart, not your wallet.