Generosity, Large and Small

In the middle of my Little Rock fun, I learned that someone I’ve never met before (but is definitely on my must-meet list) had done something amazingly generous and beautiful for me. I’ll keep the who and what private, but my immediate instinct was to send an email thanking her profusely but refusing her magnificent gift. It truly was enough knowing someone even wanted to do something so nice for me.

Well, my gifting angel wrote back and her words made me see things in a different light. “I hope you don’t really mean you can’t accept it,” she wrote. “I’ve been SO EXCITED since I did it.”

That stuck with me, and I thought about it on the drive home. In the past, I also enjoyed giving similar gifts. I hadn’t really considered how others feel when they do the same thing. Giving not only makes the recipient(s) happy or helps them out in some way, it also feels so very good to be the giver. Knowing I’ve brought someone else happiness is like a gift to myself. I realized that in refusing my gift angel’s kindness, I was, in effect, taking a gift away from her. And so I said YES! and that felt surprisingly good, too.

I’ve received many meaningful gifts in my life, but the nature and purpose of this gift and the generosity of the giver touched me deeply. Since then, I’ve been pondering both my good fortune and how I might “pay it forward”, so to speak. I can’t do anything so grand as was done for me, but I can surely do lots and lots of small things! Tippy Toe Generosity, if you will. :)

Just in case you’re feeling inspired to join me (and I do hope you will), here are just a few low cost-high value ideas I jotted down today:
– Donating blood or platelets. It costs nothing and could make a life-changing difference in someone’s life.
– Giving time, talent, and energy to a local organization or charity.
– Passing out compliments at every opportunity.
– Being extraordinarily kind in the face of someone else’s unpleasantness. (That’s also just plain fun.)
Listening to an elderly person.
– Wiping down the gym mat when finished with it.

Okay, I just had to throw that last one in. (I have my very own mat, so it really doesn’t matter to me.)

You get the idea. Generosity is good in any form–large and small. I, for one, will be looking for more ways to practice it!

What’s the best gift you’ve ever given? Or received?

19 thoughts on “Generosity, Large and Small

  1. I think the best gift – in recent past – was when I did the $100 giveaway on my blog and it got passed on to a woman who swam at the YMCA.. One of my readers submitted to give it her – it paid for months of swimming to a woman that the group didn’t want to see leave because of finances!

    And I learned the same lesson — YEARS ago when someone said something similar to me….great lesson!

  2. Wait a minute. Does this mean that you saying I looked good without makeup was just you paying it forward and being kind to an elderly person??? LOL. I think I like giving gifts better than giving them. That said, a group of friends (my sewing day friends) gave me a COMPLETE SURPRISE 50th birthday party. That was pretty neat.

  3. I couldn’t agree more with you! I think it’s very difficult to receive grand gifts, but I’ve also seen how happy it makes other people to actually give. I’m usually the one making schemes and planning gifts, but it sure feels nice to have someone think about you, too. :)

    Tippy Toe Generosity – brilliant! 😀
    Have a wonderful day :)

  4. A few weeks after Mr. B and & got married, we had just moved in to a tiny little house in a new state. We were very young and knew no one. A gentleman from our church asked if he could drop by one Saturday afternoon. He pulled up in his pick-up truck and proceeded to unload a washer and dryer that he placed in our laundry room and hooked up. Were they brand new?? No! – Come to find out, he was the Appliance Dept. manager at the local Sear’s and these were a couple of “scratch and dent” items. But they were new to us!!! We used that washer/dryer for the next 20 years and I cried when we had to replace them. That was 34 years ago but I’ve never forgotten his gesture and try my best to “pay it forward” whenever I can.

    I think one of the best gifts we can GIVE is patient listening!

  5. Like Debby, above, everytime you say something nice to me now I’m going to think that it is your good deed by being nice to an elderly person.

    I have a little mantra that I try to use in my daily life which is “try never to give anyone a bad day.” Politicians are excluded from that. As far as specific things I’ve given or received….it would be impossible to pick any one thing in either direction.

  6. The most extraordinary gift I’ve ever been given was when I quit working and was essentially broke for two years. My therapist saw me for free for over a year and then barely charged me anything at all when I began working again. Talk about an amazing gift!!!

  7. Cammy – love this! I so want to know what was done for you BUT I am sure that you have done so much for others that it is just karma giving back!

    I agree – I wrote a couple posts on my Gratitude Monday about this & that lady this past weekend that passed on kind words to me.. and I want to pass them on to others. I don’t have money but I can do this in other ways like you said! THX!

  8. Early in my marriage I had to work hard to “teach” this concept to my husband. He had a very hard time accepting things and wanted to always be the giver. Like… allowing himself to be treated to dinner. Not long ago his mother really wanted to pay and I had to remind my husband that it meant a lot to her and he needed to let her do it. One of the gifts that most touched me was given to me by my cub scouts and their moms, after they had “graduated” and I had been their leader for their entire time scouting, 5 or 6 years. The moms had helped the boys make a quilt. Each boy designed and sewed a square that showed some memory of scouting. The work and planning and love that went into that overwhelmed me. And that they even managed to pull off this surprise with my own son somehow finding the time to sew his own square.

  9. Congrats on having something that made you and the giver that happy! It’s a wonderful thing!

    I think the best gift I’ve given was when we were able to help out deserving family members with things they couldn’t afford at the time but my favorite has to be either surprising hubby with a surround sound (when they were first coming out and he thought the big box was for my aunt then turned into a 5 yr old when I said it was his) or when for our anniversary last year with the help of a producer I got his all time favorite singer to autograph a CD of his overseas and send it back in time for our anniversary. He loved it!

  10. I completely agree with Jody…I’m certain it is karma giving back! A couple of years ago, in a “popular coffee shop” drive thru, I pulled up to the window (a very busy morning), and the cashier informed me that my coffee was paid for by the car in front of me. An apparent “random act of kindness” that I have never forgotten; that small gesture meant so much to me!

  11. One of the things I enjoy so much about your blog is your positive attitude and inspiring posts! I much prefer to be on the “giving” side of things and it’s difficult for me to be the receiver. Your post is a good reminder to me that when I won’t let someone give to me I am robbing them of the pleasure I get when I am the giver.

    Since I am the chief cook and bottle washer in my home I am overjoyed and delighted when someone else cooks for me. It doesn’t have to be anything over the top – it can be a simple soup and sandwich – I don’t really mind what it is I’m served I just enjoy being able to eat with out having to cook!

    A friend of mine who is a massage therapist gave me a free 1 hour deep muscle massage at a time when I was in a lot of back pain and our funds were too “tight” for me to spend $120 on such a luxury. She packaged her offer by saying she had learned a new hot stone technique and I would be doing her a “favor” if I would allow her to practice on me. I will never forget her generosity and it helped me heal much quicker.

    I do try to pass it forward and do kind things for others when they least expect it. I love to see the smile on their face that it brings.

  12. Now I want to know what the gift is, too! 😀 (So nosy).

    I love, love to give. Not just material things, but smiles, hellos, compliments, doing things for people. That makes me feel good.

    I have received so much that I don’t even know where to start.

  13. To be bestowed such a wonderful gift not only says a lot about the giver, but also the receiver. My guess is that you do things to pay it forward every day, Cammy.

  14. I like to keep my secrets about what I give, but I don’t mind writing about my favourite gift.

    Many years ago I was not in a great place; my son and I had nothing but our clothes, and the hospitality of my Mom and Dad was what kept us from a shelter.

    It was very close to Christmas and I had no way to buy gifts for my son. My friend’s daughter heard about my situation and brought over more gifts than you can even imagine (I am crying right now just remembering the gratitude I felt).

    My son had a wonderful Christmas and I have always remembered the kindness and generosity that was shown to me.

  15. I am so inquisitive! Dying to know what the gift is…

    I know what you mean about being pleasant when someone else isn’t. It bugs the hell out of them!

  16. since I’m not the only one… I’ll say it, I want to know the details of the gift too!
    That would be a gift in itself.
    Love this whole thing.

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