By Di Chapman
We’ve rolled into the season with our usual bloated bellies from Thanksgiving, right into ubiquitous tins of cookies, fudge, pecan pies, and if you’re Scandinavian like I am, tasteless lutefisk fondues, which you should not go out of your way to try.
We’ve barreled into the season of overloaded airports, collective stress, packed exercise classes, and dreaded family gatherings to stuff ourselves with yet more food. Ah…don’t we love this month of rampant gluttony, chaos and, barring any ugly sweaters, gift giving and receiving?
The giving we do with family can really bring us joy. So does showing generosity, big or small, of any kind to causes throughout our community, nation and world. It’s awesome to bring joy to others by being generous with time, money, or things during the holidays.
The joy you’ll feel from giving surpasses the generousness itself, no matter the size or type of contribution.
Here are some basics to creating joy through giving, if you’re thinking about it this season like I am:
Keep the K-I-S-S in giving. Have you noticed the food donation boxes everywhere? Throw in some canned goods! Simple. If you don’t want to haul them around, keep them by the front door. The post office delivery folks pick up your bagged canned goods right at your mailbox one day a year. As a perennially-hurried girl, I throw the cans I’ve saved into a bag when I hear the mail truck. I run to the mailbox, usually in bare feet in the ice, snow, rain, or otherwise, and hand it to my mail person. Easy enough! I’m lucky they don’t come early, or I’d be in boxer shorts.
Keep the canned goods year ‘round. I like to troll grocery store isles all year and pick up canned foods on sale. It’s a simple routine, and storage just took a cleanout of my cupboards. That’s the agony. You must make difficult decisions about the contents of said cupboards. If they’re like mine, there’s a treasure trove of throw-awayable-junk, like old crackers, and popcorn that drives you crazy when you pop it and all you get are unopened kernels. Ditch near-empty chip bags, and stashed moldy fruit cake. Dump the pile of gadgets and plastic football team cups you’ve never used. Make room for generosity.
Generosity can be demonstrated many ways. Heck, you can give money, time, supplies, gifts, and/or companionship to the cause of your choice. Wounded warriors? Give any of the above! Animal causes? Any of the above. Relieving an Alzheimer’s caretaker for an hour, or a day? Give the time. Helping children? Ditto. I enjoy donating a stuffed animal to children’s hospitals every time I visit the pet store. My Miss Kitty’s spoiled, so I haunt the place often.
Give all year round. Drop change in the lucite boxes at grocery stores. Give a buck or two toward children’s meals during back-to-school. Easy. Grocery stores manage the process and record your donation on your receipt. Ditto the pet stores. (I know you’re taking Fido there regularly.) I have a little game I play to donate cash to causes at both. I go to the store more than probably any human throughout history. I have no idea how two slender adults and a kitty go through so many groceries. We tell ourselves it’s all healthy perishable foods, but I know we sneak in ice cream, dairy-free desserts, soft drinks, chips, trail mix and chocolate, all of which go “poof!” into thin air. Every time I’m there, I give a few dollars to an awesome cause. Let’s say I get groceries three times a week. Maybe four. My giving adds up!
Clean out your over-stuffed closet. I know it’s there! Take out your spandex miniskirts, ladies, and old Hawaiian shirts, gents. Face it. Your closet is a scary place overflowing with donation potential.
Are you frugal? Think tax deductions! Choose to give donations, whether cash or goods. You’ll be rewarded with joy and with deductions. Be awesome and think about it!
When you give, you’re in good company. I love the episode of the “Big Bang Theory” where Howard is taken, kicking and screaming, to volunteer at a soup kitchen. He kvetches loudly while washing dishes. Suddenly, in walks Elon Musk in dish gloves and apron, carrying dirty dishes. Trust me, many awesome CEOs are donating time in the trenches.
Giving is great “medicine.” One of the best ways to find joy, no matter what your circumstances, is to give anywhere, anytime, any way.
Never doubt that your giving touches someone. I had a teddy bear business, and one Christmas Eve an order came in for a sweet pink bear. It was 4:00 and the post office closed at 5:00 sharp. I was ready to close up shop. Surely, nobody expected that I could mail a bear on Christmas Eve. I had friends gathering at my home, waiting for me to join them. All of a sudden, I told the gang to party on, and I wrapped the bear in tissue and ribbon, placed it in an overnight mailing box, and sped to the post office. I tripped through the door at 4:55. While I had my spot in line, I placed the package on the floor, sealed it, and addressed it, while scooting as the line moved. I made it, and it felt so right.
Two days later, an email arrived from my customer, thanking me for sending the bear to their friends overnight. “They buried their little girl today,” they explained, “and the bear meant the world to them.” I gave of myself that night, and the reward was priceless.
The awesomeness of generosity invigorates us and gives us purpose. It can change our lives. I promise.
Happy Holidays, awesome readers! Today, it’s my joy to give you my writing. ❍
Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, and a branding consultant. Di’s latest book is “Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it!” Write to Di.