A different kind of holiday gift guide:

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There is a lot to think about when it comes to gifts this time of year. Some of it is logistical, figuring out what to give people, figuring out who is exchanging gifts and who isn’t, figuring out what you can afford to do financially. But I want us to put the logistical questions aside for a second and really think about gift giving as a whole.

As we get older we begin to see Christmas for what it is really worth. We start to see it as a celebration of our Saviors birth, a celebration that we get to enjoy with our loved ones. We see it as a time of merriment that is about more than just gifts, but that doesn’t mean the gifts stop being an important part of the season. We know that, because in America holiday spending alone is used to determine the state of our economy. People spend more money during the holiday season than any other time of year. We sink billions and billions into this time of year. Clearly the gifts have become important, whether they were meant to be or not.

If we’re spending that kind of money on gifts for this short holiday season I think it makes sense to take a really good look at what gift giving means to us. So I’m going to pose a few question:

  • If you were to give gifts and not receive any in return would you be okay with that?
  • If someone went out of their way to make you feel special, would that be enough of a gift for you?
  • Do you have a set number of gifts you want to give your children or loved ones? Why did you set it?
  • If someone were to give to a charity in your name would you be happier than if you received a gift yourself?
  • Would you opt to give a gift instead of a charitable donation because your afraid it wouldn’t be received well?

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Doing charity in private: The problem with public giving

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I did a certain charitable act a month or so ago and I wanted to tell someone about it, almost immediately. Maybe that’s a normal reaction; when we do something we feel good about we want to share that overwhelmingly positive emotion. But maybe we just like to lift ourselves up by telling others how great we were in that moment.

Maybe it’s a little of both. Maybe we think it’s the first but in reality it is the later.

I choose not to tell anyone that day, or the next, in fact I didn’t tell anyone, and if you don’t count this (which I can’t decide if I should) I still haven’t. But, the overwhelming desire to tell someone did open my eyes to my own desires. It made me step back and wonder why, after the joy from doing good had passed, was the next emotion a self serving one?

I want people to know I’m a good person, which is a flawed logic,  because if you are a good person, people already know. Goodness isn’t something that goes unnoticed. Perhaps people don’t see to which degree you are good, but they still know that you are. Goodness doesn’t come from one charitable act, or even a handful, it comes from a mixture of constant charitable acts and other acts of kindness and righteousness.

Telling people of one charitable act, won’t change their mind if they’ve decided you’re a bad person. It takes them seeing a visible transformation in your everyday actions for them to suddenly change their perspective on you. That’s possible, keep in mind, if you fear you are seen as a bad person, or even a not-so-good person, there is plenty of time to change that. Change is real and possible, so don’t stop seeking it.

But change doesn’t come from bragging. In fact, bragging always has the opposite effect that the bragger means for it to. If someone takes to bragging people take to disliking them and thinking of them as a worse person than they probably are. We can’t stand self-righteous people, yet somehow we still manage to be pretty self-righteous ourselves.

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