Cultivating a Spirit of Generosity

holiday headerToday I’m taking over The Blended Blog for the day, and since the holidays are upon us, I thought I’d share some thoughts on generosity.

During the fall and winter I find myself focused on a few things that seem to occur like clockwork:

  • I spend time with family and friends over meals, whether simple comfort food while watching football or with an elaborate holiday dinner.
  • I try to remember which unmarked box contains the Christmas lights.
  • I go hunting for stray gloves to pair up so I can always be ready to shove a pair at my son as he heads out the door.
  • I spend a lot of time thinking about what I can give to others and search high and low for the perfect gifts to give my loved ones.
  • I emphatically state “I’m staying in a budget this holiday season” only to find myself wondering where my paycheck went and just how many separate boxes will end up being delivered.
  • I spend a lot of time thinking about generosity and gratitude.

I was raised to know that generosity is the most important outward expression of love, gratitude, and thanksgiving.  We didn’t have a lot and money was very tight.  Despite this, my parents led by example, always giving to fill the needs of others.  I could not have asked for a greater life lesson than always reaching out to help others, even all the while knowing need of our own.

Throughout my life I’ve met plenty of miserly folks, and I’ve also met others who seem angelic in their desire to be selfless and generous.

Me? I’m not a miser and I’m far from angelic.  However, I highly value a spirit of generosity and I work hard to instill that in my children.

Personally, I love giving gifts to others.  I enjoy the moment that I am able to share something special with someone I cherish.  I will spend hours trying to find something that will be as perfect as possible.

I find it easiest to show generosity through giving to others.  Although, just spending money on gifts, large or small, doesn’t reveal a generous spirit.

So other than giving gifts, how do we show generosity to others?

We can cultivate a spirit of generosity when we are dedicated to spending time with the people we love, making them a priority.  At my house, this might be my son and I both sitting, headphones on, and reading books quietly, but we are doing this separately-together, which I think is a pretty rare feat with a teenager.

We can foster generosity through service, by helping others whenever we have the opportunity.  When I might not feel like I have a lot to give, I usually find I have enough to make soup and rolls or bake some cookies.  I have more opportunities to serve others in my own home, but looking outward to the community broadens the possibilities even further. 

As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow declared, “Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”  Sometimes an item gathering dust on a shelf, or squirreled away in a box, is better appreciated when we let go.

Generosity is a way of life and when you cultivate a spirit of generosity, you foster love and relationship.  Maybe the misers in the world aren’t actively looking for more love or connection, but my little corner of the world always has room for a little more generosity, gratitude, connection and love.

I’d love to hear about your favorite ways to foster gratitude and generosity in your home (and maybe any ideas how to stop a teenage boy from losing gloves)!

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