Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Defining Character: Thoughtfulness & Giving

Since this is the Christmas season I thought a good character trait to develop would be Thoughtfulness and Giving (because who doesn’t want to be known as thoughtful and giving?) But I have to admit this has been hard. It’s hard because it takes time and money- two precious commodities in this economy and during this time of year. It’s also hard because there are so many people I want to do something for and I don’t want to leave anyone out.

I started with making a list of people who really influenced my life over the last few years. I tried to limit it to no more than 25. Then I picked the people from that list who I probably wouldn’t have normally done something for at Christmastime. These people were the people who would probably be shocked to get something from me and I feel really awkward about sending something to. I started with an easy one. I sent a gift basket to the marketing team at my old job. They were a great team and I miss them a lot. They were appreciative to get the basket and I am going to try to go have lunch with them next week.

Now for a really weird one: I got a present for my ex-boyfriend. He really did have a big impact in my life and our relationship ended really weird (He just stopped talking to me when we were in this weird “friends” stage). I got him a funny t-shirt and I wrote a little letter about how I wanted to show him some appreciation for the impact he had on my life. I am sending it today and I am little scared about how that one will be received.

And that is as far as I have gotten with the Thoughtfulness part. I have lots of ideas for the other people on my list, but I have no time because I want it to be something really thoughtful because these are the people I see on a regular basis and something ordinary like a picture frame or candle just isn’t right. Also, I don’t want to leave anyone out, but I don’t want to give something just out of obligation. Like at work, I don’t want to give something to some people because they haven’t made an impact on my life really (at least not in a good way), but there are other people I would like to give something to, but then I would feel bad if someone found out and felt left out.

Now for the Giving part: giving gifts to the people in my life fits in to this category also, but I want to do something for people who are less fortunate and really need it. I got a Glamour magazine and it had a list of 31 ways to give this season. I went through the list and tried to pick out 10 things that I could do. For example:

Give up bottled water for a week; donate the savings to charitywater.org, where $20 can give one person drinking water for 20 years!

At inspiredgifts.unicefusa.org, $35 buys a bike to get a health worker to remote areas.

Each dollar donated to roomtoread.org promotes child literacy in the developing world.

At malarianomore.org, $10 will buy one insecticide-treated mosquito net—enough to protect at least one child from malaria for up to five years.

Give $25 to puppiesbehindbars.com and help an inmate train a puppy to be a service dog.

If you want to see the whole list from Glamour click here

Then I thought about just donating $5 for every charity that asked this month. But this economy is making me nervous about money. I heard a rumor at my workplace that layoffs could be coming and I don’t want to be giving away all my money only to be left unemployed next year. Plus, if I am applying to grad school in the coming month, I need to set aside at least $500 for that.

So far all I have done for the Giving aspect of this is to donate $100 to my church’s Christmas Missions Offering. This is the biggest gift I will give to anyone this year, so I feel good about it, but I can't help but want to do more.

I have less than half a month to work on this one some more, but it is hard. Maybe I should focus my time more on things like “Thank You” cards and donating my time or stuff, something that doesn't require much money. Either way at least it has me thinking and will hopefully make me more conscientious of these areas in the future.


Maris said...

It's great to do things to help others! Sometimes I can't help but want to give to good causes, even if it's only five or ten dollars!

magda said...

Oh what a great idea. I love the "thoughtful/giving" campaign you're on! How admirable! Hopefully the ex will take your gift the right way; my fingers are crossed for you!

Also, I'm loving the new blog look! <3

Lauren said...

What a fantastic post! That's really cool that you gave gifts to people who influenced your life. It shows how much you care, even if it's awkward (ex-boyfriend! wow!). I read the list in Glamour regarding charities. At the time, I was so excited and planned to donate to quite a bit of them (I usually donate every year around CHristmas time as is), but then I was laid off my job. I'm still donating to some. I feel like it's the right thing to do - job or no job.