People out loud: The truest gifts

December 2016 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

DixonIn Acts 20:35, Paul quoted Jesus in saying “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This is the season of giving, although in the true sense of Christ’s words, giving knows no season and gifts don’t always include pretty paper, ribbons and a gift receipt.
There are so many ways to give. The ultimate gift in Christianity, God giving us his only Son, makes every other offering pale in comparison, but as mere mortals, we can do our best to emulate this precious act. Giving is also non-denominational. It can be sacred or secular.

There are so many people in need. What gift do you bring?  Perhaps a cup of hot coffee to the crossing guard, or a simple “thank you” to the firefighter or police officer. Maybe sacrifice of the cost of one peppermint caramel latte to “Fill the Boot” instead.

An invitation to share a bus seat with the woman in the hijab or saying a kind word to the parking meter person for the ticket because you had a dime to spare but kept it in your pocket instead of feeding the meter.

The local food bank, Silverton Area Community Aid, is in constant need of good food, money to help people one time with bills, and volunteers. If your own bank account is sorely lacking, packing food boxes for the holidays might take only a few hours of your time but do wonders for your heart. Volunteers are always needed at SACA.

Shopping locally is a great way to give. Of course we don’t have big box stores here with “one-day-only sales” every third day, but we do have your neighbors and friends who took the time, energy, money, and risk to offer us goods and services year-round.

They also said “yes” to your Little League candy, Girl Scout cookies, and probably have three Christmas wreaths in the back office because they couldn’t say “no” to your darling progeny.

The season of giving often makes or breaks their financial year. Let’s pad the local bottom line this season.

This year was particularly difficult giving the huge divide between “Red” and “Blue” America.  It hasn’t gotten any better even though the political die was cast nearly a month ago.  Let’s celebrate differences and rejoice in commonalities. Who doesn’t want peace?

Gifts can also be gestures – a “random act of kindness” like a warm smile for a grumpy face, sharing an umbrella with a stranger, giving up the last seat in the restaurant to harried parents with hungry babies in tow. Maybe it’s even giving a very pregnant mom a free pass rather than a lecture as you patrol your parking lot for interlopers.

The season of giving is also the time for reconciliation, a profound and lifelong gift in itself. It’s what families, friends, and good people do.

Give the gift of yourself to those from who you are estranged, without qualification or filtering because a left-handed compliment – “Gee, you aren’t nearly as chubby as you were last Christmas” is just as bad as a left-handed apology (no offense to you lefties) – “I forgive you for being a blithering idiot.”  Reconciliation is free. It is from the heart. It is the right thing to do. It matters. And it is time.

In this time of giving and each day of the year, Rotary International implores us to “Be a Gift to the World.”

What gift do you bring?

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