Friday, November 27, 2015

The Season and Spirit of Giving

Subtitle:  There's No Such Thing as Too Little

Years ago I read an article somewhere (and I apologize to the author that I can't give him proper credit for the essay that moved me so deeply) about giving a dollar to a waitress.
The article, as I remember it, talked about the decision behind leaving a tip at a restaurant.  The author debated over rounding up the tip to the nearest dollar or figuring out the correct change to match the percentage of tip he wanted to leave.  In the end, he chose to leave the larger amount because 1) he could easily afford it, and 2) the waitress would experience more joy from receiving that dollar than the author would experience in keeping it.

***

This essay crossed my mind earlier this week when The Husband and I had new kitchen appliances delivered.
The Husband prepared carefully.  He measured the doors to find out which one would be the best fit for passage of the biggest refrigerator we'd ever owned.  He then moved furniture out of the way, cleaned the spaces where the new items would reside, and laid strips of paper on the carpeting for the delivery men to walk on.
(You need to know that the paper The Husband used comes from the newspaper company that owns the radio station where he works.  The rolls of newsprint paper comes in reels that, when stood on end so they can roll side to side, are about 6 feet tall.  When the rolls are mostly used up, the left overs, called roll-ends, are given to anyone on staff who asks for them.  I'd guess there's probably a hundred yards of paper left on the spool, but it's not worth keeping in the machines for a full publication run.  The Husband likes to keep one of these roll-ends in the house for home improvement projects like painting and such.  It costs us nothing.)
The two delivery men were impressed with the thoughtful planning and relieved that their muddy boots would not be a problem.  They were polite, charming, and incredibly knowledgable about the machines they installed.  They didn't need to do anything but lift, move, and plug in our stuff, but they made us feel confident in our purchases and made sure we knew how to keep them in good operation for years to come.
Throughout their stay, The Husband kept a running conversation with the two men.  He asked about their experience as delivery men, asked about their families, asked about their Thanksgiving plans.  There was a lot of laughter in our home that evening.  It was almost more of a social call than a service call.
As they prepared to leave, The Husband asked if it was customary to tip delivery men.  The two of them exchanged looks and then said that tipping is frowned upon.  I think all four of us were disappointed.
Instead of reaching for his wallet, The Husband picked up the roll-end and handed it to one of the men.  The man was stunned.
"Really?  My daughter will love this!"
"That's what I was thinking," said The Husband.
The deliver guy said, "We just moved in with my mother-in-law, and my daughter doesn't really have anything of her own there.  This... she will love this."

That small roll of paper that's useless to a printing company.
That roll of paper we get for free and have just so we have it handy.

So much more joy for the little girl who received it than would ever be had by us keeping it.

There is no such thing as too little.

***


There's an local organization that serves homeless children who lack food security and a place to go outside of school.  This week on Facebook, this organization posted about Black Friday sales on towels and wash clothes.  They encouraged folks to spend just $3 to pick up an item for a teen who didn't have a decent towel to shower with.

A towel, you guys.
Can you imagine having so little that a bath towel is a treasure?

I have two dozen bath towels in my house because I don't want to have to do laundry in the middle of the week. My kids have all the bath towels they want; they can (and do) use a different towel every day of the week.

A towel for $3.
There is no such thing as too little.
  
***

The group home that brings their mentally challenged young men to my church made a plea before one of the services.  They had just taken in a client who had none of his own possessions.  They asked anyone who had anything extra to please consider gifting it to this man.  A pillow.  A blanket.  A package of new underwear.

He had nothing.

There is no such thing as too little.

***

Every year, the radio station where I used to work sets up a drive-thru donation location somewhere in town, and they collect donations of toys and cash to be distributed among a few local charities.  For 12 hours that day, the drive-thru location is manned by station employees and volunteers from each of the participating charities.
Each year, I've heard at least one volunteer sneer at small donations.

"Is that all?  I bet that didn't even cost him five dollars."
"Did you see their nice car?  And they only gave us a fist full of loose change."
"One can of beans?  What good is that?"

That can of baked beans plus the next guy's box of Mac and cheese provides at least two meals that wouldn't have been eaten without two gifts that might have been held back because they were thought of as too little or not enough.
That fistful of change plus the next guy's fistful of change plus that lady's change from the overpriced cup of coffee she just bought plus... plus... plus...  If each of the cars that passed the drive-thru location dropped a fistful of change, the collection would be huge.
Don't think about how little your fistful of change means.  Think about how much everyone's fistful of change matters.

***

Your gift is not alone, nor is it too little.
The only thing that makes it meaningless... is you not giving it.

There is no such thing as too little.

2 comments:

Jessica P said...

This is a nice post, and so very true.

i always find it annoying when people judge other peoples' finances or ability to give by their cars, etc. We never know the whole story, and really, it is none of anyone else's business to judge what others can give or should give. People love to judge others who have nice things, deciding they are the expert on the other's finances. Ha.

The fact that the nice-car owner stopped in at all says a lot and it was good of them to do.

The roll of paper bringing joy, such a nice story.

Roses said...

Thank you, Jessica.
I wish you could have seen the look on his face. :-)