Saying Thank You

Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, tho' the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gath'ring winter fuel.

This is one of my favorite carols--a carol for Boxing Day. I love the imagery of castles, kings, peasants, and snow as well as the gestures of giving and receiving.

Our Boxing Day was delightful. The girls had friends drop by to explore presents and I had the chance to make some treats for our neighbors--something I try to do on Christmas Eve, but may do on Boxing Day from now on.

A Boxing Day tradition is to give tips to those who help you and to give "alms to the poor." Right before Christmas, E and I emptied her charity jar--she puts $1 per week from her allowance into the jar--and went off to buy a toy to give to "Toys for Tots." She bought a bee-yoo-tee-ful barbie and delivered it, quite seriously, to Toys for Tots headquarters. She was thrilled to be giving this toy.

After E gave the coordinator her toy, he said "thank you" but then proceeded to give her a pencil...then a pencil sharpener in the shape of a globe. E was so excited about her new toys that she momentarily forgot why she was there in the first place.

This has happened before. We used to give huge stacks of DVDs to the children's ward at the hospital each Christmas. We'd arrive at the Child Life office and to "thank" the children, they would let the girls pick whatever stuffed animal they wanted out of their huge collection. Our lesson about the gesture of giving, just for the joy of giving, lost.

Kahlil Gibran has a little essay on giving. He says a couple of things that feel very true to me--often just the joy of giving is the reward for the giver. He cautions the receiver to not make a burden of gratitude. Being overly thankful doubts the generosity of the giver. This was very true for E that day. She was so proud of her savings and so excited to just give.

We didn't get an opportunity to begin "thank you" notes yesterday, but today we will. As we do, we'll talk about the gesture of giving....and the very important ways in which we receive.

Susan  – (December 27, 2007 at 11:04 AM)  

Sarah, your posts are always thought provoking and full of wisdom. It is so true that the act of giving becomes a gift to the giver. Your post brought to mind my letter writing...and the title of one of Alexandra Stoddard's books, _The Gift of A Letter_. When I sit down to pen a letter to a friend, I am sending a gift of my time, my thoughts, my encouragement, and love. Some of the joy I feel in sending a letter would be lost if I knew it caused the recipient to feel that they had to write me back!

You are doing a great job raising your daughters to be conscientious, compassionate, responsible young people. You inspire me by your example!

Dawn  – (December 27, 2007 at 11:41 AM)  

You offered some very good things to think about regarding giving and receiving. Your children are so blessed to have such a wise Mommy. We'll be "writing" thank you cards today also. Actually, my youngest draws and then then narrates a message for me to write.

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