Let’s take a brief look at attitudes as the December 25-26 holiday is only a few days away. It’s a time when gifts are traditionally exchanged by people who participate in the observance of Christmas, but it is not limited to that particular belief. Some people give gifts at this time of the year simply as part of a larger personal agenda to bless people throughout the year. In other words, their gift giving is not limited to the festive season, and I personally like that concept and would like to adopt it in the near future.
Throughout the year, many acts of kindness and goodwill go unnoticed and perhaps it should be that way so people who receive presents or assistance do not have judgmental individuals look down at them or share that information in a negative manner. I hate to say it, but there are individuals who aggressively turn any positive initiative into something negative as they share it verbally – it’s called gossiping and it is very destructive. Furthermore, it is difficult to break such a habit since the person gossiping seldom realizes the harm their conduct does to others.
I recently heard about a local individual who wanted people in general to realize that churches give back to communities and their residents in ways that are not generally well known or highly visible. To make the point a unique, simple and generous plan was put in place and shared with 20 others. To make it happen the individual made an anonymous $2,000 donation to a church and requested 20 gift certificates be purchased at local businesses for $100 each. During a church service, the names of individuals were placed in a hat and drawn out at random by a third party. The residents whose names were drawn were then given a gift certificate which they could use at a local business or re-gift it to another person of their choosing.
Looking at the process from an outside perspective, it became clear that both residents and local businesses benefited from the generous donation. Each gift certificate served a double purpose as its funds were circulated through the local economy at a personal and business level. That is something many people overlook in their haste to find the best possible deal or the largest selection.
Many years ago I heard a story about a local group that solicited funds from businesses for a special event. Business owners responded and supported the cause, only to learn that the cash that was donated was taken outside the community where it was spent on the purchase of prizes. I believe that was an isolated case, but it is something we should be aware of as business owners are asked to contribute to a variety of causes and local groups throughout the year.
Receiving is always enjoyable, especially for children at Christmas time. However, the bigger lesson to learn is one of generosity. Giving actually produces a joy or satisfaction that far outweighs the temporary rush that comes when a gift is received. Having said that, we all enjoy receiving a present, but our focus should not be on getting – especially getting or accumulating as many assets as possible. There needs to be a balance in our lives and being fixated on possessions will not fill other voids that can develop in our emotional makeup in regards to sympathy or compassion for others, love of our fellow man and a willingness to share or contribute.
I was reminded of that in the fall when I bumped into an individual near the Maple Creek post office. The individual can seem a little gruff or aloof at times, so I never pegged this person as being overly caring or interested in the well-being of others, especially people who are not family members. However, to my surprise I learned the individual was helping an acquaintance who had lost a job and could no longer pay rent. Despite having a small and limited income, the good Samaritan was in the process of mailing $800 to someone who was in danger of becoming homeless in a matter of a couple of weeks. We concluded our conversation and I walked away trying to recall any recent good deeds that I may have performed. I thought and thought and thought . . .
Thinking, especially dwelling on positive thoughts is important for good mental health, but it is no substitute for action. Action or effort is required to transform a good thought into a good deed, and it may take a little practice to master. How many times did I procrastinate for a silly reason and later say to myself, “I should have done that at that very moment.” Instead, I waited and consequently missed an opportunity to help someone and feel the happiness it brings. Due to my lack of ambition or selfishness, I missed out on receiving a sense of satisfaction or internal joy for assisting a fellow human being.
The point I am making is it’s never too late to begin learning the joy of giving. Furthermore, Christmas is a great place to start and then practice throughout the new year. Go ahead and make someone’s day and you will also reap the benefits.
God bless you, and I truly hope we all make the most of the upcoming holidays.