I left 2016 with the desire to better understand generosity. Christmas presents can seem so much like exchanges: “They spent £x on me so I had better spend the same”; “I must buy … a present otherwise…”
Student income creates extra complications in the quest for generous living, as like many, I do not have an abundant bank balance to give away. I also have the joyous problem of having more friends to give to than money in the bank.
This results sometimes in the slightly awkward experience of being given gifts that I cannot return.
One of my best friends’ dad’s is a millionaire, so I have always felt that I can never buy her something that she would see as “valuable”.
However, the more that I have got to know her, the more that I have discovered that I can be generous in ways that she values more than a simple present. Visiting her every day whilst she was in hospital meant so much more to her than a card or a bouquet of flowers ever could.
A famous relationship counsellor, Gary Chapman, has the theory that humans express love in five different ways: through quality time, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation and gifts. His theory is that as individuals, we resonate more with one of these “Love Languages” more than than others. I queried this with some friends. I was surprised to that they did each have a Love Language, and for many, receiving gifts meant very little. Following the conversation, I made the resolution to give more hugs and complements to the people that really appreciated them, and I would do the washing up for the friend who really felt loved by acts of service.
In 2017, I really want to be financially generous, so that I am practically bringing change in the areas that I am passionate about, as well as stopping myself from being financially self-centred. However, I am going to ask the friends around me which way they best receive affection, and try to be as generous to them as I can in that area.
For me, one of the amazing things about Christmas is the time to stop and realise how many wonderful people I have in my life, and then attempt to thank them for spending another year with me. I want to carry that desire into the new year, and see if I can hone it into words, actions and time; to really express how grateful I am to love and be loved by others.