Wednesday, December 8, 2010
All the many ways to give...
You don't need to have a lot of money. In fact, you don't need to have ANY money. The act of giving isn't about money at all. It's about sharing what you DO have, whether that be time or love or giggles or hugs. You can make a huge difference in someone's life, regardless of your financial situation.
Personally, I used to find it very annoying when I'd hear people say stuff like "It's not the money that matters." Because mostly I heard it from folks who had TONS of money. In my mind (and even out loud, sometimes) I'd think, "Yea. Easy for YOU to say. You don't have to fret over whether or not you can pay your freakin' rent and buy food." But I have come to learn that what those people were saying was true. Now that I've gotten over my resentments, I can see the truth in their words.
I remember a time, not very long ago, when I was more terrified than I'd ever been. I had no income, I was sick as could be, and Christmas was running up on me fast. I was literally penniless. It was the most horrible Christmas of my life. While all my loved ones lavished me in gifts and offerings, I had nothing to give. Or so I thought. I was so busy feeling sorry for myself that I forgot all the many things I DID have to give. It was my younger sister who reminded me. And she made it possible for me to get through that Christmas without shooting myself. NOT kidding.
I have been graced with many gifts. One of which is a beautiful (singing) voice. I also play guitar and have a knack for making people smile. Even though I had no money, I did have access to several food banks. Putting my pride aside was no easy task, I can tell ya. But I did anyway, and went to one of those food banks and got some cake mix, frosting, etc. Came home, made a bunch of cupcakes and went to a nearby nursing home. I had my guitar, my voice, and a pair of antlers that light up on my head. I went in and asked the nurse at the desk if I might play some music and share the cupcakes with those folks. Let me tell you, it was utterly life-changing. Many of the people who lived there had no family at all. They would have no visitors for the holidays. There would be no celebration for them, other than what the facility provided. There was one woman in particular who was in the deepest throws of dementia. She didn't know who she was or where she was, let alone that it was Christmas. Or so they told me. As it turns out, even people who are in such a state have moments of lucidity. The moment I put that cupcake in her hand, her eyes lit up. She asked me my name. She told me hers. The nurses gasped. Some of her friends clapped their hands in delight. And then...we all sang Christmas songs. That lovely old woman knew every word to every song. The more we sang, the more my heart swelled. To the point where I thought it would burst with all the love that was flyin' around that room.
So maybe you don't know how to play guitar or sing. Maybe you're not good at making cupcakes. But I'm absolutely certain that there is something that you can do to make the holidays brighter for someone else. If you're in a position to spend even just $10, you can go to any number of department stores (Target, Kmart, etc.) and buy a toy or stuffed animal for a child who might otherwise get nothing from Santa. Toys for Tots is a wonderful foundation run by the U.S. Marine Corp. They do spectacular work, gathering and dispersing the toys for children all over the country. It doesn't have to be much. Because even just one toy or pajamas or slippers or a blanket or food or anything else you can think of....will change a dismal day into a celebration. Go through your cupboards. Pull out all the canned goods that have been sitting there for a while. Canned goods have a very long shelf life. You never know who might need that can of beans you decided not to use. Or you can go to your local supermarket and fill up a bag to bring to your local homeless shelter. OR...you can donate a few hours of your time on Christmas day to help serve the homeless.
There are countless ways to give this holiday season. Be creative. Be open to ideas. But most of all...BE KIND. It matters. And so do YOU.