COVID keeps reminding me of a time-honored saying.
“It is better to give than receive.”
Aside from a pandemic turning our world upside down, the disruption is painful across a broad range of people — many who never expected to be in line at the local food bank. The pandemic is killing more than people. According to Fortune magazine, more than 100,000 small businesses closed temporarily earlier in the year but never reopened.
Through no fault of their own, many faithful and hardworking people find their trades in a state of extended suspension or potentially never returning. The world moved on — and did so overnight.
A friend said to me she’s much more reflective as the pandemic continues to steamroll on.
“The world looks and feels different,” she said. “And maybe, in a way, that is a good thing, too.”
Her words stuck with me.
A few days later, my wife and I were scratching out Christmas lists. Names, budgets and ideas.
When it came to each other, we looked at one another and knew something felt wrong. Spending money on each other when so many others are in need seemed tone-deaf. So we punted — right into committing to ramping up donations to those in need.
Together, we set a tiny gift budget for each other and agreed to find ways to help others. At first, we were not sure where to start, but we let the universe guide us. And, unsurprisingly, the universe opened up.
So far, we’ve uncovered new ways to help children discover gifts beneath the tree, families put food on the table and even much-needed items at a local pet shelter. And we are just getting started.
I bring this up as I can’t begin to describe how this is changing me. The holidays are always a season of giving. But for so long, the giving seemed to be promoted as sparkling gifts, the kind that make dreams come true.
COVID reminds us too many people wish for food on the table, clean socks in the drawer and the heating bill paid. And for that, I am thankful. I know myself well enough to know when I’ve changed inside, and this year I have. And I’m sure I’m not going back.
I can tell you I will never see gifting the same. I love to surprise people with a thoughtful and unexpected gift, but more and more, I see extravagant gifts are a missed opportunity to help others.
And if you need another reason, the United States is by far the most generous country on the planet when giving to charity. You could say, giving and sharing with those in need is as American as apple pie.
So this season, join me in finding new ways to help those in need. Keep both your eyes and heart open, and give to those individuals and agencies you trust. Give the gift of lending a hand to those in need — and you’ll never look back.