Archives for posts with tag: giving

In my lifetime, I’ve been short of cash, in debt, but never poor.  My mother told me stories of the Great Depression and her mother, a young widow with three children, who faced rough times with a sense of humor and no looking back.  My grandmother taught me a lot as I watched her helping other people even when she had little herself.  She introduced me to people I never met in the comfortable life I led as a child, people who had a different scale of living.  She didn’t comment, she didn’t try to teach me, but I watched and listened.

When I lost both my husband and son to cancer, I could only think of all I still had even with such life-changing, soul-crushing losses.  On the news once, there was a woman in Turkey who had lost everything in an earthquake.  She lost her family, about 18 members, their home, their business.  She was just sitting there, frozen in the enormity of it all.  I wonder about her often.  There’s always someone worse off than we are, but I wonder who was worse off than that woman, at least on that day.

Life happens.  People are born into unfortunate circumstances, illnesses happen, accidents occur.  You can plan all you want and life happens anyway.

I’m in a good place in my life and I find myself sharing whenever I can.  I find myself doing things in my everyday life that are easy to do.  I tip bigger to make up for those who can and are cheap about it.  My kids have been waiters and pizza delivery and I know how little they are paid.  I tip bigger to maid in hotels and bigger at restaurants.  It’s just a couple of dollars here and there that I won’t miss but that might make a huge difference to someone else.

It isn’t always a big gift that means a lot.  People have pride and you can’t hurt that.  You have to be respectful.  But you can make life easier for those who struggle with a phone call, an offer of a ride, an errand run.  My time may mean more than my money.

It’s so easy to peel off a sliver of money or time when the opportunity is right there in front of you.  Last Christmas Eve, a friend of mine and I took 10 $10 bills and drove around town, handing them to people we saw on the street. There was a family waiting for a bus, a homeless man living in a tent, a homeless man who was standing outside a grocery store, a homeless man outside a thrift shop and others we found.  Sure, we felt good, but it was mainly the right thing to do. We gave those people a surprise, a glimmer of hope and love.  We learned a lot that afternoon.  And, I’ll do it again.  And again.  Because them that’s got are them that gets and they also need to be them that gives.  Simple.IMG_4380


While being snowed in for a couple of days, I’ve been decorating the house. This is no small deal as I have a vast collection of Santas and other Christmas objects. It takes me about three days to get it all out and that’s if I don’t get distracted. Part of the time is spent cleaning and clearing away everyday items to make room. It takes three steps: get everything out, make a huge mess, bring it all together.

This year, the emotions of it struck me harder than usual. Each piece I bring out has a story or brings a memory with it. There are ornaments and Santas from vacations that bring a flash of fun. There are Santas given to me by dear friends, long gone. There are ornaments from projects I worked on through the years. There’s the Santa my son gave me when he was 13, a hand made one he bought from an artist. There’s the Waterford Santa my husband bought me the year our first three grandsons were born, a Santa with a child on his lap. Little did we know that would be our last Christmas together. There are Santas and reindeer and bells brought to me by my precious little daughters. There’s a lovely snowman snow globe my daughter-in-law to be brought me when she and my son first started dating. There are some from my childhood and Santas and trees from my mother, purchased at Neiman Marcus so very many years ago.

As each of my children moved out of the house into their own, I gave them their box of ornaments. That left me with fewer, so I started using a little half tree that goes on the wall. It’s kind of my Charlie Brown Christmas tree, but it works. I have the same Santa on top I’ve had since the first year we had a tree, back in 1967. We actually married on December 23, 1966, but were on our honeymoon that year. I’ve added ornaments I found a few years ago that are picture frames with images of my family and some dear friends, even my pets. I decided these are the treasures of my life.

It’s tempting not to decorate. I don’t have the big parties I used to and it’s mostly for me, but it’s still special and fun. I usually hum while I’m working, all the beautiful and fun holiday music of our lives.

The emotions run through every day during the holidays as we celebrate with friends and family. We’re hurried to get what we want for our gift list and we’re bombarded with requests for donations from so many deserving charities. The joy is tempered by the guilt as we see one more image of a family who will have nothing when we have so much. We give canned goods and adopt families and drop coins in the Salvation Army buckets, knowing we can never do enough because the needs are so great. Some of us have someone close to us who is as needy as the people on the lists, but would never let us know. The joy of the season is tempered by the sorrow of those in pain and need.

The holidays are for sharing, sharing with all the joy in your heart. We pay it back and pay it forward and we reach out of ourselves. It’s a wonderful thing, this season of hope that brings out the best in all of us. A very wonderful time of year.