It’s that time of year, again! Halloween has passed (barely!) and the retailers are already stocking the shelves with all things Red, Green and Santa so they can realize (and perhaps surpass) last year’s sales projections for their 4th-Quarter. I’ll get caught up in it to some extent, as I always do. I have wonderful memories from Christmas and cannot help but feel the anticipation and the warmth of the season, no matter how commercialized it gets.
Lately I have been thinking of ways to stretch the Good parts of the holiday season so that it’s more than a frenzied rush to December 24th that ends in a flurry of paper & ribbon. Today is the 1st of November, and as I was raking leaves this morning I got the idea to celebrate Thanksgiving all this month by identifying people and organizations that I am grateful for, and giving to them. I’ve identified a few, like the postal carrier who delivers mail and packages in all kinds of weather, the cleaning crew in my office, and others I come across in my day to day travels. This giving will not supersede or replace other giving I am already engaged in, but will be my own personal journey this holiday season to acknowledge people, places and organizations that help bring so much of the Good that I have into my life.
To close, I want to share a brief story from work. This time of year my employer is engaged in a campaign, which allows employees to give to their chosen organizations utilizing payroll deduction or a one-time payment. Two of my employees are the key workers on this effort this year for our department, and we were talking about giving, in general. The topic of giving and not worrying if you will have enough came up, and one of them told me she has never given from her heart that it didn’t come back to her in multiples. That wasn’t why she gave, but it allowed her to give in confidence, never being concerned if she needed to hold back. This resonated with my experience growing up in a family where giving was “just what you do“.
Later in the week, this same employee’s name was pulled as winner of a contest that we have each month (I hold monthly employee engagement activities that include contests; winners get gift cards and other prizes). On her way home for the weekend she stopped by my office and said, “Check your email”
She had sent me an article about an older woman who worked around her neighborhood planting flowers, cleaning up, and helping people beautify their homes, and more. This woman had an old pickup truck that she used in her gardening and other neighborhood activities. Recently, her truck had been hit by another vehicle and totaled. The older woman was not in a position to replace the truck, but someone in the neighborhood recognized that the woman, her truck and her “gifts” of service were a neighborhood treasure, and they started a collection to help her get another truck.
I finished the article and looked over at my employee, who was holding her winning gift card.
“Like I was sayin’ earlier this week. When I give, I always get back. That’s not why I give, but I know I always got enough. I wrote a check toward that truck find earlier this week, and today I won this gift card,” she said waving the card in the air.
“It ain’t always that quick!” she laughed, “but it never fails!”
There’s great comfort for me in the constancy of giving as I remember from my childhood, as I practice it today and in the realization that this shared Truth crosses religious traditions, culture and communities. And so it is.