You and I do it every day. You give the barista a $10 bill and you get your Caramel Brulée Latte, or your Peppermint Mocha, or your Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, and you get a little bit of change. You also get 400 or 500 calories and 60 or 70 grams of sugar. Yummm!
Isn’t that an amazing kind of magic trick? What you give turns into something entirely different when you get something back for it. Dollars become tasty things.
The definition of Give is simple: “To freely transfer the ownership or possession of something to someone else, to hand over to someone.” But that definition does not cover the other half of the transaction, the getting side.
Or is giving only a kind of investing, only half of a transaction?
In my sweet example, I played a trick on you. The right word in that example is not give, it is pay. You Pay the barista for something sweet, hot, and calorific.
Giving, especially at Christmas time, does not expect to get something back. The holiday giving season did not come to be as a season of giving-and-getting transactions. After all, we talk about giving Christmas presents, don’t we? We certainly don’t pay each other presents.
This week’s Jamestown Gazette offers us a special inside look at the Spirit of Giving. Contributing writer, Bob Houston, brings us news on Page 1 of some remarkable people in our community who understand that spirit. Gift giving is not a typical transaction.
Best of all, the people and organizations Bob introduces to us this week invite you and me to join in that spirit, the spirit of giving without the expectation of getting. “Sharing the holiday with other people, and feeling that you’re giving of yourself, gets you past all the commercialism.” Caroline Kennedy reminds us.
Anyone who has ever given an unconditional gift, especially to someone in need, someone for whom a gift becomes a hand-up, not merely a hand-out, however, does get something important back that money simply cannot buy.
By giving within our community, we create something bigger than ourselves, we help to build our community. Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, once explained, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
So, there is a getting that comes with real giving, but it is not a mere transaction. Real giving gives the recipient the power to give back freely, not as a required or mandatory thing. The late poet, Maya Angelou, names what the giver gets back, and it is far better than change from a $10 bill or a steaming Grande-sized cup of something sweet and creamy. Maya discovered the real thing:
“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”
Christmas giving, at its best, is about the soul of the giver. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.
And while you’re thinking about free gifts, remember that your Jamestown Gazette has never raised its price. It’s our free gift to you and our community.
Enjoy the read.