Last week there was an article in the New York Times titled, “Six Ways to Give the Gift of Generosity to Children and Teenagers.” While the six ways were helpful suggestions or reminders, I found myself focusing on The Family History section of the piece.
“Why be generous?” the writer asked. “It’s a perfectly reasonable question for an innocent kindergartner or oppositional teenager to ask.
“One of the best reasons is to honor your own family’s history of having been helped, as… Every family has one, if you stop to think about it.”
The author, Ron Lieber, listed the ways in which he was helped: financial aid for his education, his mother’s breast cancer care and his wife’s grandparents who were welcomed to America after surviving the Holocaust.
How could I not think about my own family history and ask myself, how were you helped by another’s generosity? The financial aid at overnight camp which helped form my identity, values and beliefs. My best friend’s father who taught me about giving time by including me in their volunteerism year after year. The education foundation that has helped provide my children with experiences above and beyond the public school budget.
By now, I’m sure you are wondering about your own list, and I am thinking about how to expand mine. What would my parents say helped them? What about their parents?
This is the new perspective I hope to give my daughters, and you, readers of this blog, during this holiday season. Why be generous? Because you are affecting generations. Sometimes that generosity is in the form of a monetary gift, and other times it is a random act of kindness with no expectations. Charity, philanthropy, and donations come in many different forms, which is important, because not everyone needs the same kind of help.
If you want to share how you were helped, tweet us @merskjaffe #howwereyouhelped?