December 13th: Take a moment to think about giving. To whom do you show generosity? How do you feel about gifting/giving? How do you receive gifts? Do you give without strings attached?
I've been thinking about this lately, and examining my Scrooge-like heart. There are definitely times that I give in order to have some kick-back. A good feeling, a spoken thank you, a note of thanks - some kind of recognition. I want my money or my time or my thoughtfulness to be appreciated, and for that person to show me that they appreciate it. Otherwise, I don't feel like being as generous to that person.
Sometimes there are people in my life who take more energy than what they give back to me. I have to prepare myself to be with them, and I feel a bit drained after being with them. (and don't worry - it's none of you who read this blog!)
So I am challenged to give. To give without expectations, but out of a full heart. To bless others because I've been blessed. And to stop there. Not hope for some kind of validation or appreciation. Because sometimes it's just not going to come. And sometimes I know I don't express appreciation when I should. So I want to make more of a point of sending thank you cards when it occurs to me - not just think "oh, I should send that person a thank you card" and then promptly forget about that idea.
It's made me think of The Christmas Carol. This story seems to speak to the problem of poverty in our world: that it's not a lack of resources, but a lack of generosity. I'm looking to expand my heart - to not keep score, to say thank you more often, and to cut those strings that are sometimes attached in my mind.
But also protect my heart. Sometimes it can be tempting to give until I'm depleted. Then I don't have that full heart anymore. I can only give out of my fullness.
In this season of giving, I want to keep this in the forefront of my mind: I have been blessed, so I will be a blessing. In the words of Tiny Tim:
"But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a giid time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, 'God bless it!'"