Gifts of a Lifetime

In Community, Donesa Walkerby Lola Magazine

The Spirit of Giving is a gift. 

That “give the shirt off your back” kind of generosity is something only a few people truly possess and yet it is a trait that can be given to others simply in the training of it.  

When I was young, my mother told me that JOY was spelled Jesus-Others-You, meaning that you put God first, then others, then yourself last. In today’s society we often get this backwards and yet it is so important in raising our own that we continue to reach out to those around us so they might be blessed. It is in this spirit that I share my personal story of our family and our blessings we have each year. 

Wanting to be in the right attitude at Christmas time, I struggled on how to do this with my little ones as going to the rescue mission or volunteering service was so hard when they were little. We decided that each year we would select an experience for us to spend time with each other and that should include the blessings of other people within our realm. As little guys, our boys were fascinated with the fire fighters, calling them “fighter fighters.” They always wanted to bless the fire fighters as the engine house was close, and we took cookies or brownies over often and talked to them and got on the trucks, even had them come out for a fire fighter-themed birthday party. In thinking of how much my littles loved this, we decided to bless not only the fire fighters but to spend the next year collecting and setting aside for a gift to give at Christmas to bless others who were “burned out” of their home. I simply got a small fire engine and attached a gallon Ziplock baggie to it, and all of our extra change and ones made it into that baggie for that year as well as some of the “extras” we had around the house becoming a small pile of blessings. Then just at Christmas time, we made some reindeer cookies and took them along with the monies and “extras” to the firehouse to be a blessing to the next family in need. This was the start of a really wonderful concept because my kids couldn’t wait to see who was next. 

On Christmas Eve, from the time the kids were little forward, we have had a present under the tree and it was the first present we opened. It was simply a small box that has a name inside it of whom we planned to save for and bless the following year. My boys are grown now and we still travel or take an experience together and yes, we had presents under the tree, but we always try to understand that it is not the number of gifts nor the price of the gift nor even if it is valuable to you or something you want but rather, it is the heart of the giver that is in that package so you carefully unwrap and you think of the value of that heart. Taking the time to write thank you to those who blessed you with their heart at Christmas is as simple as turning over the paper that the package was wrapped in and saying thank you while signing your name or drawing a picture. The gift of gratitude and the gift of giving unto others comes from the act of giving and thankfulness. Over the years, we have been blessed with so much and we in turn choose to bless others who are not as blessed through the various ministries and opportunities that are out there. Generosity of spirit is a gift and it can be shared and it can be trained. 

When I was asked to share this piece of my story with you, I thought of how to do so without it seeming to be snotty or prideful because that is not what it is about nor who I am at all. The point of Christmas is a celebration of the ultimate gift we all were given in the form of a tiny baby who was the Christ in human form. The shepherds came to worship him and the wise men brought him gifts (yes, I know this was actually much later but tradition…). It is in this that we tried to stay in our thoughts. Three gifts to symbolize the gifts of the wise men. Three gifts only per person under the tree and of course, the Santa surprise when they were very little…but, it was and still is the best to open that small box on Christmas Eve and know that the ultimate gift is in the blessing of those around you. This should be a daily calling and yes, we do that too, but it is special to know that you are working and saving to bless others as Christ has blessed you with the gift of life. In the world of fraud and cheats, people who lie and steal to get from others in so many ways, it is still so refreshing to be able to bless someone or a ministry with a small gift of thoughtfulness and the JOY that comes from that cannot be had in other way. Some of my friends ask me who are you giving to this year and I always say, to the place that God has laid upon my heart. 

If you are in need of a place to start your giving, simply choose an outreach or a person in your scope of influence. LearningRx and The BrainTrain Learning Solutions gives to the homeless shelters every year. You are welcome to join us in the giving. We are accepting new blankets, pillows, and hygiene items such as small toiletries, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, etc., and these will be taken to the homeless in the week prior to Christmas. If you are in need of a list of places to save and donate to, there are so many ministries from Angel Tree to Roy’s Kids, nursing homes to the homeless. Scripture says the needy you have with you always. It is not always will you have the opportunity to bless them so take the opportunity to teach your littles this year to bless others. There are many in need of so much from those who need brain training and cannot afford it to those who need shoes and clothes. Every penny or gift counts and you can give even when you are the one in need for that is how it comes back to you. If you cannot give financially or in gifts, give your time. There are many in need of a simple listening ear or to have a book read to them.