It is the season of giving according to the Christian tradition. In our house, a multitude of gifts will appear under the same faded and frazzled antique tree, with the well-loved decorations collected from all our travels around the world. Our family love giving at Christmas time. We save up our giving, from a new pair of shoes because a child has outgrown their takkies to a gadget we have wanted to try out. It’s all piled into the same paper bags we recycle every year. Just one giant-giving bonanza.
And then this morning, I meet a woman who has no food for her three teenage boys. They have outgrown their clothes. They just survive. She is sick with worry. Worry all the time, she says. Her father died but she has no money to attend his funeral. She has had no money to visit him for a year because he lived too far away.
What a stark contrast. My weekly grocery bill probably exceeds her monthly earnings.
And I’m thinking about giving. What if we become radically generous? What if we give, not what is convenient, but what is meaningful? What if we give all the time? What if we give beyond what we think we can afford?
What will it cost us?
What if we ensured that everyone who worked for us earned a living wage and not the minimum wage? What if we ensured that everyone we know could afford school uniforms and stationery for their children next year? What if we ensured that everyone we know had a decent plate of food, at least on Christmas day? And what if we could do that for a year?
Radical generosity could be leaving an outrageous tip after your next restaurant meal. It could be keeping a wad of cash so you could give it away to every car guard or street corner vendor.
Or it could mean leaving the lion’s share of your estate to a charitable foundation or giving it away during your lifetime because you know your children already have enough money and privilege to secure their future. Or radical giving could mean deciding that you have enough and giving everything else away.
Like the story of the widow in the Bible who gave her last penny away, your penny could have more value than Buffet’s billions. But it’s radical.
Perhaps the question is not what it will cost us if we give but what it will cost us if we don’t give?
Perhaps our peace. How can I have a joyful Christmas knowing that this woman’s children will go to bed hungry?
Perhaps our own happiness. Because giving makes us happier than receiving.
We don’t need to just give money. Give time. Give your skills and expertise. Give your attention. Give a hug. Just give.
We all need to be uplifted this season. The best way of feeling better, is by changing the focus on ourselves, to the focus on others. What better way than to give? Even if we give because we want to feel better ourselves, it’s still giving. Perhaps our giving will change our motive.
Let’s change this season to a different one. One of outrageous giving. Not just to our own circle but to those outside our circle. Can I dare you to be outrageously generous this season? And if you accept my challenge, share your story, and share the challenge.
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//10 December 2021