Thursday, October 25, 2007

On Gratitude and Giving

Yesterday the May Queen received a pack of Halloween stickers from my parents. They sent a box of goodies to the house a few weeks ago and asked me to give them to The May Queen... one a day... leading up to Halloween. The May Queen looks forward to her "surprises" every day. I think my parents buy these things when they are on super clearance after the previous holiday (I learned this trick from my mom, every time I get out the decorations for a holiday it's a surprise to pull out the stuff I bought for dirt cheap and stuck in a box for next year!). Yesterday's treat was a pack of several small sheets of stickers designed to pass out instead of candy. The May Queen squealed in delight, and then immediately said "I don't need all of these. Can I give some to my friends?" "Of course," I replied, thinking she'd take a couple of sheets over to the girls next door. But The May Queen had bigger plans. She wanted to share her wealth with all her friends in the neighborhood. So we put them in the basket of her bike and rode around the neighborhood, knocking on doors and surprising her friends with a small treat. It was like reverse trick or treating!

It gave the May Queen such delight, and really touched my heart to see her relishing the joy of giving. And what a simple but true assertion: "I don't need all of these. Can I give some to my friends?"

It's such a simple attitude of giving that I wish I felt more often. I can tend to be a bit greedy with my things, whether it be the french fries on my plate or the dollars in my pocket. I don't always like sharing. I've always donated regularly to my church, 10 percent just as I was taught as a child. When I donate used clothes and other items I always take them to a local agency that I know does fabulous work for families in need in our area (I also then always take a few minutes to browse their thrift shop and never fail to walk out with a few treasures... and tell myself it's not shopping since the money all goes back to the agency!). I often look around my home and think how I have so much while others have so little (and, I am ashamed to admit, I often ALSO look around my house and wish I had more of what others have). When The May Queen wanted to share her stickers I even patted myself on the back a bit, thinking that perhaps the food I have been sending in to school with her every day for the local food pantry has made her think about sharing. Rather than sending in a bag of all the food I bought all at once, I spread it out over a week, so that she would have the opportunity to give repeatedly, and I would have the chance to tell her, repeatedly, why we do it.

Yet my giving is sort of preprogrammed. I believe in it, certainly, and have been well taught. I do have moments where it is just in my heart to give. Yet I often have a feeling of scarcity, that I won't have enough. I worry a lot about finances, which are always very tight. I often think "I can be more generous when I have more money." But I KNOW that what I have is bountiful. I know that I am called to share what I have. I know that we are meant to take care of each other. And those moments when my heart is ready to give without a second thought? I would like to cultivate that feeling more often, so that it is my first response. So that when I see someone in need, my first response is "how can I help?" So that when I have a windfall of stickers, I think "who can I share these with?"


Besides being inspired by my lovely daughter, this post was also inspired by Jen M at Get in the Car!, who dedicates each Thursday to a post on Philanthropy. Her thought provoking post today is well worth the click over there. Also, Mary Alice at From the Frontlines has a fun idea of how to turn Trick or Treating into a philanthropic activity.

30 comments:

WorksForMom said...

This was so beautiful PM. And your daughter is so kind at such a young age...

Mary Alice said...

That was beautiful. I did a Philanthropy Thursday post as well today. I will add a link to your blog, so that we can allow others to read all the collective ideas on paying it forward. Perhaps others will be inspired to join in.

Oh, The Joys said...

What a sweet kid!

Jennifer said...

The is so honest and beautiful. Think of how much different the world would be if we all thought, "Who can I share these with?" first and foremost. Wow.

Family Adventure said...

I admire you for telling it like it is -- that sometimes, the sharing is hard work. It doesn't always come easy. But it's when you still do it that it really counts!

And you clearly have a very generous daughter.

- Heidi

Rimarama said...

What a wonderful daughter you are raising. Her actions are a beautiful testament to you as her mother, PM.

thailandchani said...

Your daughter's spirit of generosity will serve her well. :)

I can't say I am as materially generous as would be possible.. but I try to give of time and energy instead. Being on a fixed income sometimes means finding non-standard ways of expressing generosity.

Susan said...

You have a special little girl! We know why Jesus hung out with the little kids, they were so free from all of the junk we adults think is important.

Julie Pippert said...

Your daughter is beautiful, her concept is gorgeous. Thank you for putting this in our heads today. :)

Julie
Using My Words

slouching mom said...

Your daughter sounds truly lovely.

Why not push yourself once in a while? Try 15 percent one time instead of 10. It might make you anxious. But it might also work to show you that nothing calamitous happens as a result of changing things up a bit.

Luisa Perkins said...

Lovely post! Your daughter didn't learn that kind of thing in a vacuum....

Beck said...

That's a lovely post and you have a kind-hearted daughter. Good job, mama.

Alex Elliot said...

What a great story! You obviously set a wonderful example for her that she was able to follow. Now you're following her example. How great is that?!

Magpie said...

Really dear.

Suz said...

I love the idea of teaching your kids about philanthropy early. It's good to remember that just as they scream "mine," that they also want to share windfalls with friends.

crazymumma said...

I think that even if you have nothing to give, some of the time or even all of the time. That just the thinking you would like to be able to give is more than good enough.

It is a state of mind.

And now we know where the May Queen gets her generosity.

Kathryn said...

You must be so proud of that little May Queen. What a sweetie. Such generosity is rare at that young age.

soccer mom in denial said...

She reminds me of the fish in that children's book who gives aways her shiny scales.

Lovely story. And good work Mama.

niobe said...

Unfortunately, I'm not always as good at sharing as I should be, so this kind of post is really inspirational.

Sober Briquette said...

I've been thinking about this since a recent discussion over at Chani's - about the cultural idea of possession, and at what age does a child internalize his culture's norm. Is it something programmed or does individual personality have an impact? Lord knows, we need some re-programming at my house. Two kids with great vocabularies until you put them together and the only word they know is "MINE."

Queeny said...

Your little May Queen is a jewel. Very refreshing to hear of a youngster so selfless and considerate. Trade ya?

Jen M. said...

This made my eyes burn. So many kids today would never say that. Sniff.

You done good, mama!

carrie said...

I love how you handled the food bank giving, that is such a good idea (I always send in one big bag, myself).

See, you are teaching her, well.

Victoria said...

So sweet, your little one. If only more grown-ups (and politicians!) were so thoughtful and giving...imagine the joy that we could spread...neighborhood, by neighborhood.

Anne Bradshaw said...

Hi Maypole! We used to have those in England and probably still do, but I haven't lived there for 10 years. Children would dance round them on May Day. Haven't seen that over here in the Wild West.

thirtysomething said...

Oh, how neat. Like "mayday"..a holiday we celebrated when I lived in the north. Good little girl ya got there.

Christine said...

you've captured exactly how i feel so much of the time.

and trust me when i say that you do tons for those around you.

b*babbler said...

What an honest and beautiful post.

I, too, sometimes find it hard to give, to not want more. Having been on the other side and needing, you'd think it would be easier, but sometimes its hard to break that cycle of fear that perhaps you won't have again.

Heather said...

beautiful post

p.s. love the costumes pictured in your latest post too--nicely done

Mary G said...

She's a little darling. I, too, often worry about reluctance to give. Some things I give easily (my time, for instance). Other things are hard for me. I love your honesty and the way you question yourself.