Five Golden Rings – Generosity

Be honest, now–did you sing it in your head as you read it? I did as I wrote it.

A couple of years ago, my wife and son passed a Salvation Army Santa on their way out of a store. It was before Thanksgiving, so when my son asked if he could make a donation, my wife refused. Their disagreement escalated, as such things do, until he ended the argument by fishing a dollar bill from his pocket, exclaiming, “I’m generous year round!” and thrusting it into the bucket.

Boy, is this a great time of year for generosity, whether you feel it year-round or not. So many opportunities to appear selfless, to be seen as one who gives the best you can afford to the important people in your life.

Only that’s not generosity. Not real generosity.

Real generosity comes, like so many other great parts of the holidays, from joy. It isn’t about being seen to give. It isn’t about what others think–well, other than the recipient, anyway. Generosity is in the pleasure you feel when you find that perfect gift and realize you can afford it, the ecstasy when their jaw drops open and they look at you speechless. It’s really not a selfless act–we get as much in the giving as they do in the receiving, if in a different form. I think my son understood that when he insisted on putting his dollar in the Salvation Army bucket.

And nobody else really matters. The perfect gift is something private between the giver and the receiver, no matter who else knows, no matter who else is in the room.

So courage, when it comes to generosity, is not in being seen to give. It’s not in buying the flashiest, most expensive gift you can find. It’s in disregarding what everybody but the person you’re giving to will think.

Isn’t that what we all wish we could do anyway?

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.