I’m not sure why, but I am feeling especially Christmassy this season. So I thought, rather than write about Trump, the Democrats, or something else political, I would put that on hold this week.
I want to talk about American generosity. It’s something I believe is unique to us. Americans are the most generous people on Earth and maybe throughout all time. And that generosity appears to amplify during the holiday season.
The old saying that it is better to give than to receive is never truer than during the Christmas season in America. And this year it is being played out on a grand scale.
Most of us by now have seen or heard of the generosity of a few celebrities this holiday season.
It all started with the actor Tyler Perry paying off over $400,000 worth of Wal-Mart layaways. Incredible!
Well, word got out about his generosity, and more picked up the ball and ran with it. Inspired by Perry, both rocker Kid Rock and talker Glenn Beck followed suit.
“@tylerperry Great idea! I followed your lead and paid off the layaway at my local Wal-Mart in Nashville. Merry Christmas and God Bless You!” Kid Rock said in his tweet.
“Inspired by Tyler Perry’s generosity, I’m stopping by a Wal-Mart in Dallas to bless some people by paying off their layaway,” conservative radio host Glenn Beck captioned a Facebook Live video Saturday, two days before customers’ final payments were due.
On his radio program, Beck also asked other conservative talkers to do something similar.
Perry also inspired non-celebrities. Rex and Kendra Hawkins, owners of Hawkins Homes,in Clarksville, Tennessee, paid off the layaways at their local Wal-Mart, to the tune of $77,000.
It’s a wonderful thing they all did. And yes, Perry and others spent well over a half a million dollars combined, and that’s great. It will likely inspire other wealthy individuals to come forward.
But is it productive to stress the dollar value of giving?
What if you’re not wealthy and can’t give thousands of dollars? What if you’re just Joe Average? Do these stories of various wealthy people inspire you to give, or does it give you pause?
Most would say it doesn’t matter – because it doesn’t. But some will certainly shy away from giving, thinking that they could hardly make a difference, or possibly be embarrassed that they can’t give such a grand sum. I understand that. But believe me, a little or a lot, it does make a difference, and can be just as inspirational.
For example: I did a fundraiser for a friend about a year or so ago. A military friend of mine, an older gentleman, on a severely fixed income, donated $10 to my cause. He could ill-afford to give even that.
This kind soul then proceeded to apologize to me, that he only wished he could give more. I knew he couldn’t really afford to give $10, but he gave anyway. Frankly, I’m welling up just recounting the conversation. He wanted no acclaim or attention. He just wanted to help. That $10 meant and still means as much or more than all the donations received during the fundraiser.
Generosity is infectious. It can spread like wildfire. And we see it happen every day, if we just care to slow down and observe. Someone will do something as simple as opening a door for another. This random act is witnessed, and the witness is inspired to pay it forward, as it were. As others witness his or her act, they too feel inspired, and so on, and so on.
I’m reminded of the Christmas movie “Scrooged,” starring Bill Murray, where at the end of the film, Murray’s character, once a surly, uncaring TV executive, looks into a TV camera during a live Christmas Eve broadcast and tells the audience that he finally understands the giving spirit of Christmas. He tells the viewers to just go and do something good for someone else, someone less fortunate. You’ll feel good about it, and then you’ll get greedy and want that feeling all year long.
So just give this Christmas season. Give to a homeless shelter, veterans’ home or animal shelter. And if can’t give, just help someone. In the frozen tundra of New England, it’s snow season. Carry a snow shovel in your car at all times. If you see someone, maybe an older person, struggling to shovel his or her driveway, just stop the car and help. So you’re a little late to that next appointment. So what!
There’s no better feeling than helping others.