As 2017 peeks around the corner, the phrase that comes to mind is “going, going, gone.” So, before I rush to greet the New Year with hope and perhaps a pocketful of resolutions, I’m going to spend these last two weeks of 2016 focusing on “giving.”
This is one time of year when giving comes into our hearts and minds. We see signs and receptacles around our community encouraging us to give – food, warm coats, toys. There are always needs and each of us has something to give.
That is a lesson I learned from a very young age. Each of us has something to give. That message came from my family of origin - one certainly not identified with affluence or even extra money. My dad did hard manual labor in a factory and his wages supported a family of six. We grew most of the food we ate and my childhood fun revolved around trees, ponds and fields of corn and soybeans. My mom sewed most of our clothes and the library was the place that shared its books with me. Sometimes I look back at my family’s economic realities and wonder how my parents did it.
One of the ways my mom and dad did it was to instill in my three siblings and me a sense of “make do.” This included eating what mom fixed – no special meals or foods were prepared based on taste buds or individual preferences. It also included hand-me-down clothes, shoes and toys. And although it wasn’t always what I preferred, it helped instill a deep sense of appreciation and a strong value for sharing.
Another important thing my parents did despite their financial challenges was to make sure our family gave to others in need. The only requirement was that our giving had to be done anonymously. Some of my most special memories include the planning and execution of our giving – making sure no one knew who it was who left something at someone’s doorstep. It was the giving that was of value, not the recognition of having done so. I am grateful to my parents for that message and practice. They helped me see – no matter one’s circumstances, each of us has something to give.
So especially now, let’s each stop and ask ourselves “what can I give?” If money is tight (or not) it’s always deeply meaningful to give the gift of time. We can read to a child, drive someone to an appointment, shovel a walk, talk, sing, listen. We can give of ourselves and as a result, we’ll make a difference in our community and our world. And yes, our own hearts will fill with joy as well.
All of us at Neill Public Library thank each of you for the gifts you continually give us. Your patronage, your time as a volunteer, your warm smiles, sweet encounters, grand conversations and so much more. We are grateful for you and all your gifts.