The Gift of Giving

While discussing this month’s theme of generosity to a friend of mine earlier this week she made the comment of “Not everyone can afford to be generous.” This really got me thinking… During this time of year, with the holidays right around the corner, you are constantly being bombarded with opportunities to give. From being asked to make contributions to the food bank in the checkout line at Kroger, to a plethora of Christmas toy drives, to all the people who stand outside stores ringing their bells in the freezing cold for change, you can’t throw a rock in December without hitting someone collecting donations for charity. For me, with generosity being a focus this month, this is a very good thing as it makes accomplishing my goal that much easier. However, all these things do place a lot of emphasis on monetary generosity, which brings me back to the previous comment of “Not everyone can afford to be generous.”

On the surface I agree with this statement. Some people, such as many of the families I work with, are in enough trouble of their own that they truly don’t have anything left over at the end of the month to give to someone else. I think the number of people this is true for is actually a lot lower than most people think, however, and the majority of households can at least afford to contribute a dollar or two. At that point it becomes more a question of “Do I want to give?” rather than “Do I have the means to give?” That being said, I believed there had to be more to being generous than just giving people money, so I did what all good twenty somethings my age do when they have a deeply philosophical question- I Googled it.

Here is what Google and Webster’s Online Dictionary had to say…

Generosity- the quality of being kind and generous.
…Yeah… That was helpful (note the sarcasm). So I then decided to look up the root word- generous to see what it had to say and I got a lot better results…
Generous- 1) Showing a readiness to give more of something, as in money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected. 2) Showing kindness towards others.

Thanks Google, once again you managed to come through for me in my hour of spiritual need! Seriously though, I really like this definition because it makes being generous accessible to everyone. By this definition anyone who is willing (showing a readiness) to give something (doesn’t have to be money) more than what is expected is showing generosity.

Simply put, I am being generous when I give a kid extra time during a session to finish coloring a picture or to play a game. I am being generous when I take the time to lend an ear to a friend in need even if I may not have a lot of time at that moment. I am being generous when I volunteer my time at various charity events, and I am REALLY being generous when I let more than one person merge in front of me on the highway during rush hour. (Believe me, in Columbus that’s a Christmas miracle. Trying to safely navigate your way around this city is like attending an asshole convention where every douche bag known to man converges on your location to try and piss in your Cheerios. They will find you and they will seriously fuck your shit up.) You don’t have to be loaded like Bill Gates and donate millions of dollars to charity each year (though that is awesome and good for him). It’s the simple gestures that sometimes mean as much or more than giving gobs of money. By this definition, we have no real reason not to be generous because something as ridiculously simple as being kind to someone is showing generosity, and in an ideal world everyone should be kind to everyone.

So here is my challenge- Go forth into the world my friends and be generous towards others. Not just for today and not just for this holiday season, but everyday, for the need is so great and everybody, every single person, has something they can share of themselves. I am convinced that if everyone did this all the time the world would be a much nicer place to live.

As for me? I am going to start by making myself a nice mug of eggnog, throw on some episodes of “Hot in Cleveland” (hey, gotta be generous towards ourselves too) and start making some more mittens. They may not be as beautiful as store bought or cost a lot of money, but one of my gifts is creating and I like to share that gift with others. As I think about all the little hands my mittens will keep warm this winter, I like to think there is one thing that makes them stand out from anything you could ever buy from a store-
They were made with love 🙂

It’s a mitten orgy!

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