Life is a boomerang. What you give, you get.
We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. – Winston Churchill
No one has ever become poor by giving. – Anne Frank
There are so many sayings out there about giving. It’s true; just Google “quotes about giving” and you’ll get about 146,000,000 results. There are religious references, quotes by those who have cemented their place in the history books, sayings found in books by authors unknown to most of us, and even mantras that are not attributable to anyone at all. I think, however, that none of these thousands of quotes are referring to the kinds of giving that we see so much of these days. That is, the giving of stuff.
In three short weeks many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends and family. We will travel by car or plane to see loved ones. We will grocery shop and prepare mountains of food. We will have dessert and settle in for a long afternoon of football and naps. But will we ever really think about what the day means? Will we give thanks for the bountiful harvest and for peace and unity…as Abraham Lincoln declared when he established the national holiday amidst our very own Civil War in 1863? I wonder how many of us will stop for a moment to think of those who haven’t had a bountiful harvest? Will we consider those who are living amidst crisis and chaos? Will we take pause to remember we are all in this together and cooperation is the best and fastest way to prosperity?
Or, will the vast majority of us enjoy our few days off of work and get ready to shop? Unfortunately I think so. Which of us will be in line at 4am to get the best price on the things we are giving as gifts? If we expect those who make the most minimum of wages to give excellent customer service at 5am, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Remember, those who are making change at 6am are the very people who weren’t able to be with friends and family out of town the night before because they had to report for work bright and early to sell us stuff.
So, I challenge you: when you are gearing up for your holiday festivities, think about giving something that isn’t stuff. Think about those who are less fortunate, who are struggling, or who just have bad luck. Consider what you might have to give to someone who isn’t expecting it: perhaps it is a smile to someone who is down, maybe it is an hour of your time reading to a child who just wants to listen to a story, or even the offering of your arm to someone crossing the street.
Believe me, the gift of stuff is over-rated. True happiness comes in the giving of yourself to others.
Check out www.givingtuesday.org to learn more.