‘Tis the season of giving!
Of course, most of us on hearing that phrase think of… stuff. Blu Rays, and X-boxes, and designer scarves, and jewelry, and fine cookware, and… yeah, lots of things. Don’t get me wrong, I love opening a box and finding something shiny in it as much as the next person. Quite possibly I love it more than a fair number of people. I fully expect to spend some time on Christmas morning opening some really superfantastic packages full of things. I expect to put them to use and enjoy the hell out of them, too. I’m giving some pretty awesome things to people, as well.
The anti-material girl I am not, no matter how little other resemblance to Madonna anyone can find in me.
But far too many of us think that if we can’t afford the big ticket items, we have nothing left to give. Really, though, we do. When we don’t have a lot of money, we still can come up with time.’
Even that doesn’t need to be much. A few minutes here, and hour or two there. It all adds up.
Some people find the time and energy to make huge commitments, like spending all their weekends helping build houses for Habitat for Humanity. That’s fantastic. Others find less time, but spend it consistently doing something fabulous. One friend of mine has spent years tutoring children through the Boys and Girls Clubs wherever she lives. Another volunteers for an organization that gets free books donated from bookstores and gives them to school teachers for their classrooms. She also spends a lot of time crocheting hats for cancer patients going through chemotherapy.
And there are the scattershot volunteers like myself. I’ve done probably a hundred charity walk-a-thons in my day, and I never pass a Salvation Army Santa without putting my pocket change in his kettle. I spent a summer volunteering as a counsellor at a day camp for kids with Cerebral Palsy, I’ve donated handmade goodies to charity auctions, and I spent nearly two years volunteering in a museum.
Then there are the good neighbors. There have been times when Mr. Twistie has been in the hospital and I’ve been going out of my head with worry… and suddenly I hear the kid from next door mowing my lawn for me, or someone shows up with some tasty treat they just cooked. Then I remember how long its been since I ate, and whatever they brought looks like it just might hit the spot.
If you’re low on cash this holiday season, it’s okay. It doesn’t mean you can’t join in the festivities. You can still offer to help out somehow. Open a door for someone whose arms are full. Ask someone if they need a hand with their groceries. Listen to a friend going through a rough patch. Spend a little time with someone who’s lonely. Give someone a compliment.
Thoughtfulness and compassion are gifts, too. Best of all, random generosity doesn’t need to be wrapped.
And you can do it all year long, too.