Giving the most, when you have the least
It’s been a rough round, 2020. Amidst the lows, there have been highs. And even in the harder times, there were offers of ease. But this year hasn’t been easy for anyone. It’s been worse for some than others, but there isn’t a person who hasn’t been affected by the last year we’ve had. So many have lost family members, and jobs, or are struggling emotionally and mentally to navigate a new way of life. The pandemic has taken its toll, and it’s okay to acknowledge that.
While life may have continued onward for some, with jobs moving to the comfort of homes (maybe even permanently) or the consistent schedule staying in place for the essential workers. Not everyone has been as fortunate – so many have been displaced from their jobs due to the pandemic. Whether it’s been because businesses are closing, being high-risk, or getting the virus themselves, there is a large amount of unemployed and financially hurting people right now.
Personally, I’ve been blessed with opportunities this year that have surprised and blessed me. I’ve also lost work from clients and opportunities due to the financial restraints of the pandemic, health concerns that put me in a high-risk category, and the dreaded medical bills. I’ve felt some of the toll, but I can’t imagine the stress this puts on those with lost incomes and worse.
The holiday pressures add a new level of financial discomfort. While we should be celebrating the reason for the season, the worldly guilt of gift-giving can often be consuming. Especially for those with financially little or nothing to give. Have you been there? I’ve been guilty of allowing the guilt of not being able to provide the “biggest and best” to override my joy for the season. In my attempts to keep the holiday spirit alive, I’m learning that joy has little to do with the gifts we give (or receive) and has everything to do with the time, care, and generosity we bring others in alternative ways.
So how can you give others the MOST, when you have the LEAST?
Quality time over gifts
Gifts are temporary and they only offer momentary joy. It’s a great feeling to be able to give out of the kindness of your heart, and there is nothing wrong with this. Some people naturally love to give gifts (and receive them, ha!). However, giving can be much more than buying someone an item. I want to emphasize, there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying gifts. But not everyone can do this, and for those who need to hear it: it’s not necessary to buy gifts.
I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t remember what presents I received as a child or even as a teenager, but I do remember the time I spent with my family. Or visiting my grandparents, eating dinner together, and Christmas Eve traditions. These memories left lasting impressions, so much that I want to carry those traditions on to my own children.
Quality time and attention is a gift, and it doesn’t cost anything. If you are unable to provide your family with gifts aplenty, know that what you can offer them is PRICELESS – the gift of quality time.
A few quality time ideas:
- Movie and games night at home.
- Fishing, or camping in the backyard.
- Cooking together, and learning new recipes.
- Working on a project together.
- Volunteering and community projects.
- Video calling family and friends.
- Going for walks, exploring parks and playgrounds.
- One-on-one coffee (hot chocolate or tea) talks.
- Sharing a meal (put the electronics away).
Giving your heart, and helping hands
I often witness that people with much less than myself, give me more than I deserve. Just look around at the people who bring home the smaller paychecks – clergy, paramedics, social workers, emergency personnel, childcare and nursing home workers, etc. These people are serving others the most, but making the least. Additionally, many of them work around the clock, on weekends, AND holidays. They aren’t in these careers for the money (and some of them are just volunteers), they are in it to serve others.
This is an example of how we should live. Ready to serve others, through our hearts and hands, regardless of what we receive in return. It doesn’t cost a penny to volunteer, help at your church, local food pantry, homeless shelter, nonprofits, or in your own community. There are countless ways to serve your neighbors, family, and friends with the simple use of your God-given hands (and heart).
Serving others with your talents
The ideas for this are numerous. Your talents are a blessing and can be a gift to others. For example, I like to bake and around the holidays I try to bake cookies for family and neighbors. I don’t feel like this is a big deal, I bake often, but what I take for granted others appreciate.
Maybe you are musically talented and can be used to provide holiday music at a homeless shelter on Christmas, or within your own church on Sundays. Even posting a music video online for others to enjoy is a blessing, a gift to others. Using your talents to bless others is another gift that comes from the heart rather than your wallet.
A few ideas to bless others with talents:
- Great with kids? Volunteer to babysit for someone (without charging them)
- Pet-sit for a neighbor or friend so they can go on a much-needed vacation.
- Online tutoring in a subject you’re experienced in.
- Take dinner to a family.
- Bake pies for a local homeless shelter.
- Start a community garden.
- Teach financial, cooking, and other classes to students
- Volunteer to coach.
- Help others with repairs (house, car, etc).
- Lead a Bible study or ministry
- Good at photography? Offer to take photos for others, free of charge