This time of year ignites a giving spirit; presents wrapped in glittering paper and securely fastened with ribbons and bows. For a moment, the gifts bring a sense of satisfaction- we are bringing joy to our best friend, our family, our co-worker, our teacher, or our significant other. Bombarded by commercials and advertisements, we often relate giving and gifting to monetary items such as new kitchen appliances or electronics, baskets of chocolate and wine or a new bath robe. But giving stretches beyond the seasonal discounts and goods.
Giving with time offers the greatest fulfillment of all.
There is beauty in giving back. It does not have anything to do with money. Giving back can be spending time and energy toward worthy causes such as picking up a volunteer shift at a local organization or sharing your energy toward an effort that affects your community, good or bad.
Whether you spend time with friends and family, sharing a meal together, volunteering at a local farm or building trails, time becomes more valuable to your well being than the expenditures we often collect while giving "stuff".
In my personal experience, the joy of giving my time lasts beyond the moment of excitement when someone opens a gift. It lasts beyond the time spent to find the perfect item, the time spent wrapping the item, the time the item will spend on a shelf or in a closet. When we give the gift of our time, we make a lasting impression on our own lives as well as those we share it with.
Building trails offers an enlightened perspective on what goes in to creating and reinforcing these paths that are walked upon by hundreds of wandering hiking boots. It’s an honorable task to move dirt, hand saw logs into equal lengths, roll rocks up and down hill sides, place steps where they wont hinder natural water runoff, and end the day or the week or the season with something that will endure the impact of people and the influence of natural cycles.
Harvesting broccoli and snap peas at a local farm offers the opportunity to connect. The grocery store is a place for buying food but a farm is a place for understanding our food and appreciating how it is grown and the processes it takes. The work of a farmer is everyday, in the elements, all of the year. Our food is how we nourish our bodies. Spending time along the rows of produce brings a fresh appreciation.
Leading our youth on forest walks and snowshoe ventures is a way to share stories and teach the next generations about the environment. With attentive eyes and ears, minds full of wonder and imagination, spending time outside with young adults and children is a gift of wisdom and a reminder to be creative.
A day in the kitchen with family and friends is a beautiful gift. We all nourish our bodies but sharing this seemingly monotonous task with those we care about becomes a gift.
The gift of time enriches our personal lives. It opens us up to the world around us and teaches us about ourselves. It connects us to those who are close to us as well as our community. We receive the lessons that the earth has to share. No matter what our bank accounts look like or where we live or how we choose to spend our days, giving our time to those around us will bring joy that lasts throughout the year.
The holiday season has passed and we all welcome in a new year to share the gift of time and energy with family, friends, local community, or a charity.