In a matter of hours, Santa will come sliding down your chimney with a bag full of toys. He’ll leave boxes full of books, movies, dolls, trains, video games and action figures for nothing more than a few cookies and a glass of milk. While the cookies are delicious and the milk, although probably lukewarm, is the perfect accompaniment, is that single plate of sweets really an adequate match for the goodies he brings? The man flies thousands of miles in one night, leaving an untold number of gifts beneath trees for children he has never and will never meet. He doesn’t simply deserve a sugar cookie; he deserves a feast. But he’ll probably never get it. So why does he do it? Why does every year find him with a fresh load of gifts, an eternal smile and ageless energy?
Because the act of giving is, in and of itself, a gift. It rewards not only the recipient but the giver as well, allowing him to feel effective, useful, generous and loving. It strengthens relationships, reinforces bonds and puts into action emotions that cannot necessarily be expressed with words. Without giving, we would lose the opportunity to connect further with our loved ones. But the benefits of giving are not limited to the people that we know and love; they extend even to those that are strangers and those that cannot express their appreciation or reciprocate the favor. That is why volunteering, anonymous giving and Santa-like actions are so popular, during this season and all year long.
As you exchange presents tonight and tomorrow, know that you are doing yourself a service every time you hand someone a package or help them accomplish a goal. You are bolstering your mental and emotional health and doing the same for the recipient. You are letting love out, which lets love in. You are making the holidays happy, and that’s all anyone could want.