My dad’s hair started falling out last week. After thinking he’d maybe dodged the bullet with losing his hair during radiation, it started coming out. Like a rock star, he had my sister shave it off completely and has told my mother he wants beanie with lady silhouettes on it so his head won’t get cold. He’s so sick, my dad, but he and my mom are still hosting a mega Thanksgiving at their place, and it’s not just family, it’s anyone, just like always.
My parents’ house has always been the place to go for those who have no family around during the holidays. The joke is that they take in all the strays – this means cats, dogs AND people. Growing up, it was a haven for my friends who would rather be at my place then at home with less than stellar parents. They’ve always taught me about giving, not by telling me that I should, not by guilting me into doing it, but by leading by example.
I remember when I was younger; we always did the Angel Tree thing. My parents probably still do it, and I know that my son and I participate in it as well. It’s not something we typically talk about; it’s just something we do. Giving canned goods and non-perishables was a yearly thing, and so was whatever was in vogue at the time – shoe boxes for foster kids, care packages for soldiers, you name it, we participated. Reading this you might think I grew up rich, but you’d be wrong. We were solidly middle class when I was in high school, less so before moving to Georgia when I was 13. But you don’t have to be rich to give a couple cans of food, or to buy some jerky and hand warmers for the soldiers.
My mom would always make a goodie bag for a girlfriend of mine in high school whenever she made holiday treats, like zucchini bread and cookies and junk like that. Not only because my friend would like it, but because my friend’s parents were total jerks and she knew that my girlfriend wouldn’t get tasty cakes and cookies at her house. That same girlfriend lived with us for a time when her parents kicked her out, she came to us when she needed help, and my mom and dad gave without thought. That’s just what they do.
Just like everyone, there are traditions you have as a kid that you carry over into your life as an adult, and giving without worrying about advertising it is one of those things for me and my kid. This is the time of year that people are most apt to give because they feel generous and, for some, they like to post about it on social media, or tell their friends about the stuff they do because it makes them feel better about themselves if others believe they are good.
Personally, I could care less why they do it, as long as it gets done. If you give because it makes you have the warm and fuzzies in your belly, fine. If you give because someone made you feel guilty, great. I don’t care how you do it, but do it. I’m not rich. I’m a single mom that lives on a budget. But that doesn’t stop me from making sure that I help as much as I can every year, all year. One day I might need help. I’d like to think if that ever happened there would be someone like me and mine that would step up.
See, Anne Frank had it right. No one ever did get poor by giving. In fact, if anything, the little you give back makes you feel richer than Midas. Give it a try this year, I promise I’m right. If not, I’ll give you back your can of green beans.