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Thanksgiving: Gratitude + Generosity

Did you really think I wouldn’t write a blog about giving for Thanksgiving? Of course not.

For most of these posts, I’ve avoided telling you how I’ve personally been generous because it’s kind of taboo to do that. The whole “give in secret” thing (which we’ve taken way too far and I need to rant on at a later time). I’m breaking that here for a moment because what I thought was a nice idea turned into something else. And I’m hoping it will stir you up to try it yourself.

Christmas and thanksgiving have an odd relationship. They are both lumped into the “Holiday Season,” but one gets to be the favorite child we are really focused on, while the other gets relegated to part of a single day. Thanksgiving, we take time to be grateful for the things we have in life. “Give thanks.” For our family, friends, home, health, food, smokin’ hot wife (by cringy pastors), Amuuurica, not the Colts or Pacers, turkey, hedges of protection, and especially… sweatpants. But mostly, we’re just here for Christmas, which gets all the decorations, attention, and gifts. Go to Target from November through the end of the year and Thanksgiving is mostly overlooked.

But something amazing happened last year when we brought the two together.

Gratitude + Generosity.

Our company did something different around the holidays in 2020. In the middle of a pandemic, we did surprisingly well while other companies were hurting financially, probably due to there being a lot of hurting people to help. So around the holiday time, they flipped the normal Christmas bonus on it’s ear and gave us a portion to GIVE AWAY instead (as well as forgiving $10 Million of debt, which again is another story). The only stipulation they gave us of what to do with the money was we had to give it to someone who had been really affected by Covid. Maybe due to medical problems, lost their job, were a first responder, etc. Someone to whom 2020 had come at him or her really hard.

My wife and I decided that wanted to personally match the gift out of our own pocket. Not only had we made it through 2020 without any major issues, but we also became debt free as well. There was margin now in our life to go above and beyond, and we could match the gift without killing ourselves to help even more.

But we didn’t immediately know who should we give it to. Our first idea was to leave a big tip at a restaurant. They employ lots of people that had a crazy 2020, dealing with shutdowns, delivery’s, masking up, social distancing hurting customer capacity, and those that did turn up were often times mean and unruly. Helping a waiter who was a complete stranger would be fun. Maybe we could even split it up between multiple restaurants.

But something felt kind of off. Maybe there was already someone in our circles that needed help and we were in their life to bless them during this rough time. So we made a mental list of our friends and family that we were pretty sure had a rough year. And I suddenly remembered a lady I used to work with. Her husband’s job was in live entertainment, which had been closed all year, and he had only been brought back for minimal hours because of restrictions in that area. We had previously chatted about his job, the irregularities, and when she thought he’d be back to work. But things still weren’t looking promising.

When we called them, I wasn’t ready for what happened.

Don’t know what prompted it, but gratitude just started spilling out of me. I thanked her for the  influence she had been during our time working together, how much we loved their family. None of it I pre-planned at all, but I wanted her to know how much we cared about them. How thankful we were for them. And to show our gratitude… (clicking send on Venmo) “hope this little bit helps them during this crazy season for you all.”

She starts crying. I’m crying. My wife’s crying. All over the phone. We’ve given to people before, We’ve thanked people before. But for some reason the combination of the two together was a whole other experience. Gratitude + Generosity. To the moon!

But it’s not over. She tells me that it had in fact been a really hard season for them, more than we knew, and they didn’t know what to do. They were just going to keep praying and trusting in God to provide. Only a few days earlier, their small group came to them, out of the blue, and had gave them a financial gift as well. The exact same amount as what we had to give.

That left me on another level for days, maybe even weeks. And it was so accidental. I had initially left them out of the gift, and could have done any number of things that would have been good enough. Barely remembered them before we made the decision. But that combination of gratitude and generosity was so powerful, capstoned by an obvious sign from God that He not only saw them, was with them, and was going to provide. There’s not a worship song that compares in my mind.

So… I dare you to try it. Find someone who means a lot to you. Tell them how much they mean to you, what they’ve done in your life. Then give them something. Anything. See what God does. I think it’ll be electric. At least it was for us.

Thanks + Giving.

(Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash. Enhanced by J.B.)

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