How Do We Continue The “Season” Of Giving?
Last week I had Christmas dinner with my sister at a small Italian restaurant in New York City. Half way through the evening a homeless man walked into the restaurant and asked a waiter if he could have a meal. Much like the other diners my sister and I found the situation a little strange. However, one diner at the table next to us walked over to the scene and offered to pay for the man’s meal. The waiter agreed, had the man seated, and started to recite the specials menu as they would for any other customer. The diner helped the man read through the menu and pick out a dish. After his meal, the man left quietly. He didn’t say thank you to the waiter or the diner, but he no doubt felt a bit happier that night.
As this season of giving draws to a close, I wanted to share this experience, because to me it truly exemplified the ‘spirit of Christmas’. Watching it unfold evoked a profound, yet simple realization of what Christmas, the season of giving, really means to me at this stage of my life. That realization was this:
To be giving is to make people feel special.
When I was little, Christmas was all about presents, and getting lots of them. As I grew older, it was the quality rather than the quantity of the presents that mattered. Now, Christmas is about the experience. It’s about spending quality time with the people who matter most. I’m sure many can relate to this.
Now, the quality of that experience depends upon what I can do to make the people who matter feel good and happy. To some, the feeling of happiness will come from receiving a tangible gift. For example, I gave my sister a vintage poster of a cat because, well, she loves cats. To others, the greatest gift may be an intangible one, like my sister and I making time to Skype our parents in Australia on Christmas day. Whatever it is, large or small, the act of gift giving is important not because of what the person gains, but how it makes them feel. My sister didn’t ask for that cat poster, but the fact that I’d bought it simply because I though of her when I saw it made her feel happy.
Again, to be giving is to make people feel special.
So, I want to leave you with this: just because Christmas is over, it doesn’t mean that the accompanying notion of ‘giving’ has to stop. Of course, I’m not saying we should all go out and buy dinner for the next homeless person we see. However, we would all do well to take that example and think, how, in our own way, can we make someone feel special. How’s that for a New Years resolution?