Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's Better to Give Than to Receive . . .

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.

11 comments:

Gran said...

Pondering along lifes way is a good thing - thank you for sharing. One thing that popped into my head while reading your post is that I have some fabrics that I am never going to sew. I am going to go pick those fabrics out of my stash, and take them up to Dessert Industries by Thanksgiving. Thank you for the thoughts.

QuiltSue said...

Woww, what a thought-provoking post. Thanks.

Kelly Ann said...

Owning a small business in a small town I truly believe in giving back to the community, we do food drives for both people and pets...it is amazing how much more we collect for the pets then the people. We did a food collection last year that only yielded a couple of boxes I was almost embarrassed to deliver such a small amount but then I had to remember that it's the thought that counts. We're gonna start our holiday food drive next week and run it through mid December lets hope we get more then the last time. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

Lorraine said...

good thoughts Kim.....'tis the season......

ratherbquilting said...

Wow, you are deep today, Kim. I think you should post about your wonderful, generous gift of fabric for my students to use in making their charity quilts!!!! For those of you who don't know, Kim is EXTREMELY generous. Just ask my 5th graders who are happily sewing quilts for Newborns in Need using the fabric Kim sent us!!!

Vicky said...

A good post, Kim. My thought - in the end, it doesn't really matter why we give, but that we do. (Hugs)

wendysquilting said...

Great Post, I did the same thing with my girls when they were young. One funny family story we still laugh about: when my youngest was around 4 I took her with me to shop for the shoebox gift we gave each year, I chose a little toothbrush and paste set for it and my little one wanted one too but we were on a very tight budget in those days and I told her no. well out came the bottom lip iykwim and she stomped her little foot and said "it's not fair poor people get everything!" I had some teaching to do :)
There are so many in need and sometimes it's so hard not to judge others who are in need..but we need to remember always that we never know whats around the corner for ourselves or our loved ones...

Anita said...

Very well said, thank you!

Owens Family Adventures said...

When DH and I were oh so young...married and with a baby our first Thanksgiving away from home was going to be really hard. We had no money to speak of and cereal was going to be our main meal.
That is until someone from his work knocked on our door with a huge box full of food. We had a turkey...all the fixings...just everything you need for a Thanksgiving feast. It was such a blessing.
We sure have tried since then to do unto others. This year I will make an extra special effort my friend!
Thanks for making me remember a special time.
hugs!!!
dawn

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

Kim, that was an incredible post. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to give blood too, (not just you but everone) if you're able. I can't give anymore because of my lung condition, but my two kids have taken over for me now. I gave 71 units, my son has given 25 so far, and my daughter has given 5 units so far. Today is her 18th birthday.
Chris