or is it?
I know it's best to do things for others all year long, but let's face it: We're coming into the season of giving, when our hearts--and pocketbooks--open more than ever to those less fortunate than ourselves.
Today I did one of those kinds of things and it sure made me feel good! And given the way the economy's gone the last year or two, there are more and more people in need, so I felt even more grateful to be in a position to help someone else, even a little. It could so easily be ME and MY family who needed help--and there's no guarantee it WON'T be me next year, or the year after.
Years ago, when my kids were young, I "taught" them the concept of charity by incorporating into our Christmas tradition the experience of selecting and purchasing gifts for an unknown child. You know how so many malls have Christmas trees with the names and needs of children? Well, at the start of the holiday season, we would select one of those children to buy for. I think it's a good value lesson for our children, especially if it can be made more meaningful for them by asking them to contribute something from their allowance and help select items for a child their own age.
Back then, helping to make Christmas a little nicer for an underprivileged child was an uplifting experience, but during the years we did it, it never really hit home the way helping a family does now--now that there are so many families JUST LIKE US, made up of people who have fallen on hard times that aren't the result of their lifestyle choices but simply because they've lost their jobs and/or lost their homes through no fault of their own.
So I was thinking about that on the drive home from work--thinking about how good it made me feel to help someone and wanting to talk about it here in some way. So, of course, I thought about what I wanted to say, and then that got me thinking . . . . I didn't want to make it a post about ME and what a good person I am, because that's not why I did what I did. And that made me wonder whether we're motivated to give to others because it makes us feel good about ourselves; which, of course, seemed like a really selfish reason for giving. Am I overthinking here? Maybe. I know that ahead of time, I didn't think about how giving to another family would make me feel good, so I know I wasn't motivated by any selfish reasons.
Still, is it better to give--which might make one feel prideful--or to receive--which might make one feel humble? Interesting concept when viewed that way, in a somewhat biblical sense, isn't it?
Regardless, though, the family that's hungry isn't going to analyze what motivated you to fill a bag with food for their holiday table, nor will a child who receives a few gifts on Christmas morning wonder if you gave only because you felt it was expected of you. And in the end, it's really about how they feel, right?
So go ahead. If you have it to give, then give. And as an added benefit, it will make you feel awfully good--just enjoy the feeling and don't analyze it.
And if you're on the receiving end? Just know that in allowing someone to help you, you've also helped them. The magic of the holiday season.