By: Rachel Doherty | Tweens 2 Teen
Today is the perfect time to unwrap what it means to be generous, as we walk through the 12 days of Christmas.
It’s not hard to be generous at Christmas.
All the stores are reminding us how many days we have left to shop for family and friends. The radio’s full of ads, and so is my Facebook feed.
But somehow in this glossy image of Christmas, something is missing. I think we’ve got caught up on just one way of giving at Christmas without understanding what it really means to be generous.
“I wish we could put some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.” – Harlan Miller
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This is part of my Christmas series, looking at one gift you can share each day in the lead up to Christmas. If you want to start at the beginning, the 1st day of Christmas was all about love.
The different ways to be generous
When I think of the people in my life who are generous, they aren’t all alike. There’s lots of different ways that people give, and most of them don’t involve material things.
It’s got me thinking about all the ways that we can be generous at Christmas time, so here’s what I came up with:
1. Give within your means. Christmas shouldn’t be a time of debt. Most of us live in a world where we have plenty of stuff, so don’t max out your credit card to show your love. If money is tight this Christmas, give something of more sentimental valuable than financial.
2. Be the first to give. It never feels quite the same when you’re giving something in return. Jump on the front foot and be generous first!
3. Smile and acknowledge people. It’s an “eyes down” world these days, but why? As a kid I was always taught to say hello to people and smile as I passed them in the street. When I walk in the mornings I always do that, but not when I’m walking in other places… Let’s be willing to connect, even if it’s fleeting.
4. Be generous with your time. Christmas is a time to listen, play and talk with our loved ones. Our time is a gift that’s more valuable these days than ever before.
5. Forgive someone who’s let you down. Treat them the same as before and don’t become guarded. Life is too short to let these little things get in the way of good relationships.
6. Give encouragement. One thing I love about Christmas is getting together with my brother and sister-in-laws, and their husbands too. Across the festive period they all take the time to talk to my kids and encourage their dreams. They’re interested in what matters to them, and all have different points of connection. I hope I do exactly the same with my nieces and nephews!
“The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.” – Hebrew proverb
7. Go out of your way to help others. Helping someone carry things to the car, or your neighbour mow are little acts of kindness that go a long way. When you’re having a hard day, someone jumping in and helping with one thing can turn it right around.
8. Welcome others to join you. Over the years we’ve had lots of people join us for Christmas. It always adds something special to the day when you get to share it with someone you don’t know all that well.
9. Share your wisdom. There’s generosity in guiding others on the path of life. But it needs to be gentle, without blowing your own trumpet.
10. Give to those in need. We all know people who are doing it tough this Christmas. Generosity isn’t just about giving to people we love or giving away stuff we don’t want. It’s about sharing what we’re blessed to have and going without. Even if it’s just a little.
EC LaMeaux wrote a lovely article about the five qualities generosity fosters in people. Two that stand out are optimism and energy. Being generous is good for our health and good for our mind. I like that.
Article supplied with thanks to Tweens 2 Teen.
About the Author: Rachel Doherty helps those living and working with young people, through supervision, coaching, speaking and consulting.