Many refer to this as the Season of Giving. But what does that mean to you, to the community you live in? As I get older, the more I find that this season elicits feelings of selfishness; a wonderful selfishness. Let me explain.

As we approach the holiday season, we often find people pulling out wallets to buy items on wish lists, sales pop up as businesses gear up for shoppers, and the hustle and bustle of the giving season begins. With this, stress levels also tend to rise as the pressure to find the perfect gifts for everyone we know mounts.

In the last decade or so, for many of us the season for giving has become more about what we have and what we can gift. In short, it has become very commercialized. But, is that really how people feel when they give a gift to someone. Or do we give because it feels amazing to make someone else happy?

We surround ourselves with bright lights and holiday decor, people singing, and celebrations of this wonderous season. We make extra food and indulge in festivities. We are not surrounding ourselves with items purchased, but instead with the wonderful feeling of making others happy.

It is still important not to forget what the spirit of giving genuinely means, and that the perfect gift is not always an item purchased with money. Tangible items are great, and please support our local businesses this season. But nothing is more priceless and more needed now than kindness and love. Sometimes, the only thing people need is to be shown support through genuine care and compassion. This also happens to be the most rewarding gift to give.

Giving Tuesday is coming right up on Tuesday, Nov. 30 – let’s start thinking about organizations that help others on a regular basis. How we can make an impact by helping them? Selfishly, pick the one that would bring you the most joy to support on Giving Tuesday.

As a child, I, like many, looked forward to the decorations around the home, the bright colors and inviting lights on the tree, mounds of long-awaited presents, and the anticipation of what Santa may bring. When I was young, getting presents was the most exciting part. However, I have a distinct memory of when I was 5 or 6 years old wanting to start looking for presents for other people. This carried with it a new amazing joy and excitement. I stopped thinking about what I was going to get, and instead pondered the feelings of getting someone else a present.

Searching for and finding just the right gift still is the most fun part of the gift giving season for me and mine. In our family, we don’t have wish lists and instead focus on giving someone a gift that we think would make them happy. Often this requires digging deeper and thinking more creatively.

As I grew into an adult, this became even more exciting as I got my first job and could buy gifts for people myself. I remember as I was a young mother to small children and not well off financially, I still always wanted to give to a family in need because that was the most rewarding. It didn’t matter how much I afford, I selfishly wanted to give to others. Doesn’t that sound odd? Selfishly wanting to give to others.

Have you noticed that many people refuse help or gifts? “Oh you don’t have to do that, no I am all set” or “but I didn’t get you anything?” Refusing a gift or help sounds like you are taking responsibility off of the giver. However, what you are really doing is depriving them of that wonderful feeling of giving. When someone gives you a gift or help, trust that it makes them feel good too. Let them be selfish.

Tedford Housing is partnering again this year with Pathway Vineyard Church of Brunswick to provide the families in need in our own community an opportunity to shop at no cost to them for household items, toys for their children, and gifts for their spouse/partner. This opportunity also provides these individuals with that feeling of joy we all get when we give a gift, tangible or not, without the worry or financial stress that may go along with it.

Maybe you will be shopping this year, finding yourself able to give to your friends and family, and maybe a little extra, as you pick up some items for this Christmas Store. Together we can give the gift of joy to someone else.

Innately, we don’t give because we have to; we give because it’s one of the most wonderful feelings. So, go ahead, be selfish this year, and give to someone else; it just feels amazing.

If you need more information about Giving Tuesday, the Christmas Store, or how to help those experiencing homelessness in our community this holiday season, visit our website at tedfordhousing.org or contact me at [email protected]

Andrea Meadows is the community and donor relations manager at Tedford Housing. Giving Voice is a weekly collaboration among four local non-profit service agencies to share information and stories about their work in the community. 

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