I once found $20 in a laundromat. My mother told me to ask around to people if they had lost any money and no one had. Then she said: put it in your pocket. So I did. Then she told me to buy something for someone else with the money and only keep a little of it for myself. It sounded marvelous to me, this idea that found money should be used to make someone else happy. So I did. I bought my dad a birthday present and felt pretty damn good to be able to do so.
Now we see it all the time: reality renovations, make wishes for kids, lavishness for the less fortunate…like money and dreams-made-real come from these all-powerful grand corporations. But who teaches us to give? How do we learn to prioritize and utilize this underused capacity? It is just a personality flaw that we just want to hoard and not share?
One thing I am learning to do this year is create real and often step-by-step opportunities for my kids to give. For the little ones: to help them make lists, make or buy presents with others in mind, wrap and tag, and give. Actually give. Other folks stuff. That they would like.
For my older kids, I am sending money to them expressly to be used for giving. And enough money so that they can be specific and feel that capacity stretch and grow and empty with each gift given.
The best feeling, for me is when a gift given can truly represent/respect a receiver’s personality/time/place/work in the world. And while that’s great, we also have to show our children (nieces, nephews, grandchildren, foster children, etc.) the steps we take to get there.
Finally, ANY time a child gives you something as a gift…ACCEPT IT. GRACIOUSLY. Truly thank them and the respect the capacity from where it came. The more we work on this process, no matter the season, the more it will become a natural action.