When Does Giving Stop?

Christmas is the season of giving. We all know that, and even the stingiest of Grinches might hand out presents or toss a few coins into a bell-ringer’s bucket.

We spend more than we can afford to show others how much we care. Our schedules fill up with more parties and events in December than the other 11 months put together. And some of us spend hours rehearsing for a performance to help others feel good about the Christmas season.

We give of ourselves, our time, and our wallets for weeks. Then, just like Christmas movies on TV and carols on the radio, that all stops at midnight Christmas Day.

So why does giving stop?

Of course, there’s the last-minute rush to donate to nonprofits for the tax write-off benefit in the calendar year. The reason is obvious – we’d rather give our money to a cause than to Uncle Sam. So the spirit of giving has nothing to do with that.

But giving during the Christmas season is just to give. Not because it helps our bottom line or benefits us in any way. And it usually helps others have a better holiday.

Why can’t we give the same way during the rest of the year?

January is in the heart of winter. It’s cold and snowy although March and April are the snowiest months in Colorado. But let’s stick with the winter idea. What if we each bought one pair of gloves, one scarf, or one warm hat, then passed it on to someone who’s cold? One person may not make a big difference, but everyone together can.

Then, February is the month of love. Maybe we could give a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers to someone who needs a smile. In March, pass on a clover plant or buy a drink for someone who’s not tipsy. April brings Easter, so that’s wide open for gift-giving ideas.

Get the idea?

You don’t need to give a lot, just one thing to one person at a time. As the anonymous saying goes, “Making one person smile can change the world – maybe not the whole world, but their world.”

My church has a “Give One” program. Every month, we’re asked to donate one thing. Not a lot of money or things; just one thing. Last month it was a pair of shoes for a child in need. This month, it’s one food item for a local food pantry. Every donation costs each of us very little, but with all our gifts combined, it makes a huge difference.

What can you give?

You don’t need to spend money. Look around. If you’re like me, you probably have more stuff than you know what to do with. If you have an unused that punch bowl, maybe you know someone who would love it. Your church or community center might need it for weddings or social gatherings.

What about that crystal cake stand you got as a wedding gift and never took out of the box? Surely a friend who decorates cakes can use it. Chances are, she’s been shopping for one and you could make her day.

Give yourself a monthly challenge. Find some way to give someone a gift, no matter how small. Write on your calendar what you’d like to give away this month and next. Then, find someone who could use a gift. You don’t need to wrap it, but that could make it fun.

Also, it’s fun to give anonymously, especially if the gift is extravagant. A friend had some extra cash at Christmastime a few years back. Our church was hosting homeless families for a week over the holiday. She donated Target gift cards for each family so they could do their own shopping instead of always getting handouts. She tucked the Target cards into Christmas cards and signed each one with “Love,” but didn’t give her name.

That night, several of the parents had those cards standing on the tables next to their beds so everyone could see. And those were the only Christmas cards they received that year. It was my friend’s best Christmas ever.

We have some time to make tax-deductible donations for this year. But we have the rest of our lives to make life-changing donations.

One gift at a time.