Another Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas season is upon us. ‘Tis the season of shopping, decorating, and baking! It is also a time to reflect on the past year and most importantly, giving. Christmas is often called the Season of Giving but the act of giving transcends all religions, cultures and societies. Sometimes, though, it’s the receiving, not the giving, that matters most. Let me explain what I mean…
Thirty years ago, I read an article about giving that changed the manner in which I view “charity, philanthropy, altruism, giving, generosity”~ all those words that can mean giving without receiving.
The story was about a family who was asked to put together a “holiday basket” for their church food pantry. The husband and wife went through their own pantry and tried to decide what to donate. A canned ham was rejected because, well, hams were expensive and it would make a good mid-week meal for their own family. So they put in a couple cans of tuna. Coffee? Too expensive, maybe a box of tea. How about the tin of butter cookies Aunt Ann sent? That was kept for company and a box of crackers was donated instead. This conversation continued until they put together a basket. Looking at it, they were very pleased and felt virtuous about being so charitable.
Sometime later, having fallen on hard times, they, themselves, were the recipients of a food basket from their church’s food pantry. As it turned out, they received the very basket they had put together earlier! How they wished they had put in the items they decided against! A cup of coffee with the butter cookies would have been a welcomed treat! The canned ham would have made a great any day of the week meal!
The saying may be “Give and you shall receive” (Luke 6:38) but maybe it should be “Give as if you will receive”