Welcome readers! We are now in our last month of this year...already! How are you with that bit of truth? Are you entrenched in gift buying mode? Or are you adding the last bit of tinsel to a festively decorated Christmas tree? Have I caught you with flour on your face as you just now realized you still have 24 dozen cookies to pack for the cookie exchange? Wherever you find yourself this day, I hope you are in good form and frame of mind. I have a little story for you today and it is on the topic of giving, as it relates in large part to this very season we find ourselves.
A number of years ago I worked as a flight attendant. Our company flew for Delta and most of our flights carried passengers from smaller airports to the large ones. It was the best job/lifestyle I ever had AND the most physically taxing 8 years of my life. On one of my night flights, from a place I cannot remember, I got lucky and had only a dozen or so passengers to care for, as we flew into Detroit. Having only a few passengers always meant that I could personally serve them and got to chat with them for a few minutes. These were dream flights. Talking to people from all over was always so very interesting and filled my desire to ask questions about places I've never been (even for just a few minutes). Anyway, there was a woman on this flight who was going back home to Uganda, after having visited her husband, who was in the U.S. for his job. She was very sweet and seemed to enjoy our little conversation. I found out she had three boys and she told me their ages. After finishing up with my beverage/snack service, I found myself with an overwhelming thought that I should send these boys a gift..from me. So, I asked this woman if she would be ok if I sent her children a package/gift. Her response was one of surprise and she willingly gave me her address. Fast forward...a week or so later I had a package addressed and ready to ship to these little boys. I headed out to the nearest place to send the package; and to my shock the cost was going to largely outweigh the cost of the contents...by three times!!!! So to do the math; $100 worth of gifts would be $300 in shipping!!!!! Can you imagine how pale my face must have looked at that realization? Someone behind me heard my gasp and said that she, too, has sent packages to other countries and the shipping is astronomical, always. In addition, she stated that some governments have one or two people that operate with a bit of inside corruption and will pilfer through the packages before they deliver them....IF they deliver them. You will most likely never know. Well, I decided to pay the shipping and send them anyway...and this is my point: When you give a gift, any gift, and regardless of the cost of shipping or price of the gift...you release any hold over it. I mean that your gift is no longer in your possession, not just that you no longer HOLD it, but it no longer HOLDS you. It's not yours, it now is the "obtainment" of the receiver. So, in my case, it was not up to me if the gift would ever reach its destination; it was the intention of giving it...free of any encumbrances, not to be acknowledged as received and no "invisible/emotional" tags that said "I am sure I'll get a thank you with words of accolades", etc. I have been made aware that this kind of offering has a name: "Hilarious Giving" and I didn't come up with that on my own. I actually heard this from a friend who listened to the story I write here to you. I thought this would be a fitting reminder this holiday season, because, we may give a lot of thoughtful gifts to those that may or may not be receptive in a way that we are expecting. We all want to be acknowledged when we give, but the true meaning of giving in the most sincere form is when we give to give, for the sake of giving...freely, without strings of any kind attached. Do you agree? When you find yourself able to give with this posture, it is unbelievably satisfying, in a very personal way. Your self esteem is not dependent on the reaction/response of another. Moreover, this could be why giving, without someone else being aware that you are the giver, is so special.
I want you to know that my package did indeed arrive and totally intact. I didn't know that in Uganda the temperatures can be extremely hot, but the mom assured me that her boys loved the sweat pants and sweatshirts I sent them!!!! I did receive thank you notes from her children (as my package had to include a return address) and to this day, this is one of my best gift giving adventures.
Thoughts: Give, even when no one is looking! Hold loosely to the things of this world.
Until next week! Krismasi Njema (Merry Christmas - Swahili)