Shed and Share
It is the holiday season. For the adults, it is often a time of rushing, worrying, and hoping that somehow you can make it a better Christmas than ever before for your families. And a better Christmas it will be if you teach those you nurture how to shed and share.
Paradoxically, during the holiday season we relentlessly teach our children how to be myopic and self-centered. They make long lists of what they hope to find under the tree; they spend hours dreaming and hoping for treasures that will be their own. And, more often then not, they will find partial fulfillment of those dreams and desires.
Yet even as we fulfill their deepest need to be doted upon, we also have a responsibility to teach, especially during this holiday season, the skill of shedding and sharing.
As you contemplate how quickly December will pass and wonder how to make the most significant difference in the lives of your loved ones, may I suggest spending just one hour this upcoming weekend practicing the principles of shed and share?
Younger children will have a harder time parting with a treasure here and there. Teenagers may toss discards in your direction without a modicum of regret. Your spouse may cling to long-unused items with tenacity that will surprise you, considering the prosperity you enjoy.
Nevertheless, the best kind of shedding and sharing comes from taking what is useful but no longer needed in your life and giving it away. This must be done proactively, energetically and with a cheerful heart. It doesn’t matter if you are giving the items to the local homeless shelter or taking your stash to a thrift store. Gather from your home what you don’t need, pack it up, and get it gone.
Every shirt that goes into the pile will be one more child what will be clothed; every pair of shoes will mean that someone won’t have cold feet on Christmas Eve. Every unused and still viable toy, game, and stuff animal will get another chance to be loved and useful in another home with another family.
How do you do this? Start with a short family meeting explaining that you and your spouse have acquired four large black garbage bags to be completely filled with the “extras” from your home. Suggest a specific hour on Saturday morning when the family can work together to fill these bags with the surplus of your life. Remember, black bags reduce second-guessing because you can’t easily see what you have contributed!
I truly believe that when we shed what is not currently needed in our lives, if and when we need those items again, they will flow back into our life. So shed freely: the old jewelry, the pants that are gorgeous but hang unused in the closet, the three coats you have had for ten years but haven’t worn but once or twice. Out, out, out. Gone, gone, gone. Shed, shed, shed.
You may never see the tears in the eyes of the recipients of your generosity, but you can imagine the joy of a good, clean piece of clothing warming both the heart and the soul of another. You can imagine the joy on Christmas morning when the dusty toys of your storage areas take on new shine as they enliven the days of children hungry and forlorn.
My family has been on the receiving end of such generosity. One Christmas season we knew it was our youngest son’s last Christmas on earth. It was also a season of economical desperation for our family, since my husband had been unemployed for some time. The coats we each received, the teddy bears that came with bows and bells, and the individually wrapped gifts that appeared on our doorstep gave us courage and hope to face the inevitable New Year and the loss leukemia often brings with its sad diagnosis.
My coat was beige, warm and wool. It was of the best quality and made me smile every time I wore it, both during the hard December days between hospital and home, and for many years afterward when memories were interwoven into its cloth. Someone had shed and shared just for me. It meant the world to me at the time, and I looked into the faces of those around me wondering who had given so much to one such as I!
Most of us don’t live close to poverty, hunger, and despair. Life has been gracious to us. So let’s shed and share with vigor. Four large black garbage bags full from each and every home in your neighborhood will provide plenty of surplus for Santa’s Christmas Eve ride.
You won’t miss the items. You will feel leaner and cleaner and more in the holiday spirit. It is inevitable that you and yours will gain this Christmas season. So take a leap into that promise, and shed and share what you don’t need!
Photos used with permission of sxc.hu, MeiTing, thea0211 and guitargoa’s.