The many wonders of the gift of giving

By Lankika de Livera

Christmas is a time for giving. As we celebrate the birth of the Christ child, we remember too the life Christ led - giving of Himself to heal the sick, comfort the grieving, strengthening those in fear, in need or want and blessing the lives of those who had the good fortune to meet Him.

His blessings live on for all of us in the world today who are children of God despite differences in beliefs and faiths. We are called upon to live exemplary lives and be living examples of what Christ taught - to be kind, generous, compassionate, gentle and loving. Our giving, can come through these qualities.

Reach out to others this Christmas. Pic courtesy getty images

Giving is of many kinds. It is not only of giving gifts or cash and kind to our loved ones or those less fortunate. We can reach beyond such giving to the kinds of giving which do not require us to spend money. “Giving of self” does not require one to be wealthy. One only has to sacrifice some time from one’s personal life to be of “service to others” – and this can be a greater giving than the kind that requires money. It can enrich another’s life. For this kind of giving is entwined with patience and love. In our fast-moving stressful society, impatience seems to be the order of the day. As everything is “instant” people have become more and more hasty and short-tempered. But if we just slow down and ponder on what is really important in life, we will find more meaning in our own lives.

The quality of our relationships with people has a bearing on the quality of our lives and our peace of mind. We have often heard of the old adage that one has to “give to receive”. If we give kind words, we will receive kind words for every action has a reaction. You can uplift another’s spirits by a cheery “Good morning”, rather than remaining sullen and indifferent. You can add more joy if you control your temper without reacting to a situation with a barrage of angry words.

Let the spirit of the Lord prevail upon you this Christmas. Slow down your pace to listen to a friend who is hurting. Let him or her talk out a problem. The world is full of hurting people with unresolved problems. The Lord was a counsellor Himself. Listening to others and giving of your time in this manner is also “giving”.

A close friend of mine, a mother of four, spends two hours every Thursday morning at an elders’ home in Colombo, listening to the woes of the old, forgotten, neglected men and women. She lovingly does little chores for them, sometimes combing and tying up hair, reading letters, tidying up cupboards etc.
At a Senior Citizens’ Club in Mount Lavinia is a living angel of a lady who says she has no funds to help those in need with material things. But she makes it a point to give pedicures to the old ladies there, every week. She brings nail clippers of different sorts, scissors, cotton wool, Dettol and baby cream on her account, bends down and attends to somewhat unkempt toenails. When she is thanked, she says “I am doing this for the Lord”. Now that calls for giving of one’s self and being unassuming and humble.
One can take a simple home-made meal and visit a lonely elderly person who may live alone. There are many old and lonely parents who live by themselves while their children are living abroad.

Those who are financially disadvantaged are the worst hit for they may be unable to go out of the house due to not being able to afford even a trishaw. A visit and a chat will be greatly appreciated.

My most beloved friend who inspired me to become a Christian, used to faithfully visit the Cancer Hospital Maharagama Hospice where those who could not be given any more medical attention were left. She would go there once a week and spend time with those terminally ill, rubbing cream on their backs, massaging their foreheads with balm, talking to them, listening to them, bringing toys to little children, writing letters home for patients from outstations. This was her labour of love.

Then there is the greatest gift of all- ‘forgiving”. At least in the new year, firmly resolve that you are going to forgive someone who has hurt you. Destroy grudges as it only eats into the person who is nursing the grudge. Let go of the hurt and find yourself unburdened, relieved and free.

So dear friends, never cast an unkind remark at another, for it chills the soul of that person. Unkind words are like exhaust fumes that choke our ability to breathe. If you have nothing kind to say, say nothing. Our presence should be a joy, we should be a light, a beacon of hope to those not so happy souls and a source of joy to everyone we meet.

Give of yourself this Christmas season. Give of your time, patience, caring and love and try to continue through the year. It will bring something back to you and that is happiness and joy.

A poem I picked up somewhere along the years puts it best………..


Everybody, everywhere seeks happiness is it true
But finding it and keeping it seems difficult to do
Difficult because we think that happiness is found
Only in places where wealth and fame abound
And so we go on searching in places of pleasure
Seeking recognition and monetary treasure
Unaware that happiness is a “State of Mind”
Within the reach of anyone who takes time to be kind
For in making others happy, we will be happy too
For the happiness you give away returns to shine on you.

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