Monday, December 3, 2012

Tis the season to be generous

Some people love present-giving.  On the other hand, I find the pressure of Christmas really disconcerting.  I want to be generous towards my kids.  But I flick between the joy of buying something that will give them a lot of pleasure and guilt because my kids already have more than enough while others lack even the basics.  Like a lot of parents, I worry about sending messages of materialism and greed and wonder if they will be surrounded by so much stuff that they won't value any of it.  But I also want them to experience the joy of being given good gifts that intimate some of our love for them.

So all of this has led to me thinking about generosity.  The thing about generosity is that it's not about gifts per se, but also about the spirit in which they're given.  We can give expensive, beautifully wrapped gifts with a miserly spirit.  What kind of a gift is it really if we resent the feelings of "obligation" that drove us to purchase it in the first place? 

I'm not great at generosity so I'm trying to do better with it this year.  Less grouch and more giving.  And it occurred to me that I ought to be applying generosity to much more than just the buying of gifts.  I struggle with Christmas because it's not really something I would bother with if I had the choice.  I find all of the social expectations a bit overwhelming.  But I acknowledge that for others it is a really special time of the year.  So, with that in mind, here's a list of some of the ways I came up with that I could be more giving and generous this Christmas (and hopefully going forward to the new year too):

1. Giving the gifts that I am giving this year with a happy heart, even the extra ones that come up like work or school 'obligations'.

2. Being generous in listening to my kids and playing with them when I'd rather be enjoying my own space.

3. Doing some of the things my husband and family enjoy during the summer even if I find them boring (cricket) or I'd rather set the agenda for the day.  And not grumbling about it (even to myself).

4. Taking time to speak with people at school, church, family functions, etc. that I don't necessarily gravitate towards.

5. Dismissing mistakes, forgiving small errors, waiting a bit longer, not demanding my way, hearing someone out or going out of my way to help someone else.

6. Not wanting my own way in all aspects of the family festivities and changing plans graciously when the situation requires it.

7. Not holding past mistakes against people but being generous and lavish with forgiveness.

8. Using up "valuable" time to shop and think of ways to make other people's Christmas special even if it's not my cup of tea.

9. Turning up to things, making arrangements and helping out with end-of-year stuff with a cheerful and generous spirit.

10. Letting the kids help decorate the tree this year.  I might even be able to restrain myself from fixing it after they go to bed!

Feel free to add to the list if you've got a generous idea of your own.


Karen said...

Some excellent suggestions there Deb, ones that I need to take on board here as well :)

Tasmanian said...

I let the kids decorate the tree ENTIRELY on their own this year. It was fabulous. The secret is that it is not a big tree, and it has sparkly branches (fibreoptics, apparently) and twelve gold musical instrument ornaments, then about five hand-made things. It works because my eldest is six. In ten years time, the hand-made ornaments will weigh down the branches! It also had candy canes but I caught my four-year-old there - twice - hiding in the corner behind it quietly gorging himself.

Petrina said...

Great thoughts, thanks again Deb.

Petrina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deb said...

Of course, I have to find the tree first. No idea where it went after last year. Surely it's in the shed somewhere?