Honor Christmas in my Heart Posted on 15 Dec 16:09
For some, Christmas is a date on the calendar. For others, it’s a state of mind. I see this all the time—some folks scurry and scramble to give in December, while others grow their giving timeline, significantly. I’ve scratched my head, and I’ve thought a lot about it. What makes the difference? How can I effectively vow like Dickens to “honor Christmas in my heart, and try and keep it all the year”? I’m not entirely certain, but I think it surely has to do with whether or not we are ultimately good givers.
So on the 14th day of December, with only 10 shopping days left before the big birthday celebration, I thought it appropriate to write about what it means to be a good giver.I don’t consider myself an expert. But I’m fortunate to be surrounded by some phenomenal examples. Here are some thoughts to consider the next time you stand in front of the mirror to see if giving looks good on you.
I’ve noticed that the best givers I encounter seem to have a deep understanding of my needs, whatever they may be at the time. Understanding is not easy to come by, is it? No, it’s work. It requires listening intently. It requires recognition—trying to feel what someone else feels to gain insight. The intangibles may initially feel like tough stuff because they are, but the good news is we can become adept as we practice compassion. Then we will see what we can give to help meet needs or make wishes come true.
Henry Eyring, modern day sage, believes that we have to give freely if we are to be good givers. Give freely…I think that has to do with how we give. Do we do it happy or sad? Good givers give happily. They don’t second-guess charity. There is no begrudging a gift. What did the poet/philosopher Gibran say? “They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space. Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.”
Of course learning to sacrifice is an important aspect of giving. Eyring reminds us that expert givers let receivers sense that their sacrifice brings them joy. Sacrifice well—that’s part of giving well. It’s easier to make offerings to gracious receivers. When we’re on the receiving end, we need to remember that gifts are symbols of something far bigger than the gift in and of itself. You can make any gift better by what you choose to see. We need to notice what is at the heart of every gift we receive.
We can look to the irresistible classic “A Christmas Story” as a case in point here. Ralphie’s aunt Clara gives him a powerfully pink furry Easter Bunny suit fit for a four-year-old girl looking past December to spring’s holidays. She doesn’t see Ralphie’s emerging sense of self. Aunt Clara doesn’t understand that he’s filled with a nine year old’s outrageous pride—excessive pride that makes him believe he can fight off masked marauders single-handedly. She gives Ralphie what she wants him to have. Old man Parker, Ralphie’s father, has much better insight into his son’s dreams of grandeur. He gets that an official Red Ryder, carbine action, BB gun is so much more than a toy. It’s the key to unlocking Ralphie’s dreams—it’s a rite of passage. Maybe this Christmas we can be a bit more like old man Parker. We’ll need to take time to understand those we love, to give freely, and to count sacrifice as a bargain. I’m pretty sure we got this.