The Season of Contemplation

Growing up in rural Southern Indiana, there were few forms of entertainment. My grandmother was a high school English teacher who adored books; my mother was also an avid reader. Books have always been an important part of my life—I am very grateful that I am a “reader.”

The Giving Tree Garden in Holon, Israel

I don’t typically hang on to a book once I’ve read it. However, there are a few staples I like to reread because of the moral. “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein is a classic and has long been one of my daughter’s favorite books. Like many other classic literary works, it comes with an important reminder for each of us: Bringing joy to another, even if it means giving something up, isn’t a sacrifice when you love someone.

“The Giving Tree” is one of the few books that remains on my bookshelf because the message serves as a powerful reminder about sacrifice and gratitude. I think we could all agree that the world could use a little more of those values these days.

We are entering the Season of Giving. In my opinion, this is not a “season,” but a year-round movement. However, this is the time of year when many take a moment to reflect on the past year: the impacts made, the successes, the failures. Maybe it should be called the Season of Contemplation.

In “The Giving Tree”, the tree never contemplates whether it should or should not provide for the boy throughout their lifetime. The Tree freely gives its bounties like shade, apples and branches to the boy.  It serves as a place to rest for the boy-turned-elderly gentleman after its apples and branches and trunk were used. Silverstein’s crowning achievement is defining altruism in a fashion that can be easily comprehended by audiences of every age.

Take a moment and think about the last time you did something altruistic without expectation of praise or something in return for your gift.  Did you give what you could to a person suffering from homelessness? Perhaps you purchased a Thanksgiving meal for a family in need or sponsored a family for the holidays. Like many people, your budget may not allow for a monetary gift. In this case, put your greatest gift—yourself—to use. Volunteer to help an organization that makes you happy. Whether your soft spot is with veterans, the homeless, immigrants, animals, or the environment, the power to give back and make a positive difference is within all our reach.

As you reflect upon 2017 and the choices you’ve made, I hope you will remember that you have many gifts to offer the world. If you need a gentle reminder about giving, sacrifice and gratitude, I invite you to read “The Giving Tree.”

“He sat. And the tree was happy.”

As my grandmother and mother would say, “Don’t forget to count your blessings.” You have the power to impart happiness through giving.

Happy Season of Giving!

By Laura Limp, Development Manager