It’s the joy of giving week, Daan Utsav, India’s festival of giving, celebrated every year from October 2-8.
In keeping with the theme, I thought I’d share a sweet story attributed to actor Katharine Hepburn shared with me by my classmate.
Here’s how the story goes.
When Katharine was a teenager, the circus was in town. Her dad and she were standing in line to buy tickets for the show. As the line moved, finally there was just one other family in front of them.
This family had eight children, all under 12 years. From their clothes, it was obvious that they were not very well off financially, but they looked neat and clean and were well-behaved. They waited patiently in the line, excited about the circus show, talking about the clowns, animals and all the acrobatics and tricks they were about to see that night. Clearly, they had never been to the circus before today and they were naturally eager.
The dad and mom of the children looked quite proud, holding hands, and looked like they were in love with each other and quite happy. From time to time, they looked at their children affectionately, watching their enthusiasm.
When their turn came at the counter, the man was asked how many tickets he wanted. He proudly said “eight children’s tickets and two adult tickets. We can’t wait to see our children enjoy the acts.”
The ticket lady told him how much he needed to pay.
On hearing how much, the man’s wife let go of his hand and the man’s expression changed from excitement to disappointment. Nevertheless, he asked the ticket lady again, “how much did you say?” She repeated the price.
Now, the man did not have enough money. How could he tell his eight children that he didn’t have enough money to take them to the circus?
Katharine’s dad and she were observing what was going on. Her dad quickly reached into his pocket, pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and dropped it on the ground. Not that they were much better off than the family, but still. Then her father bent down, picked up the money, tapped the man on the shoulder and said, “excuse me, sir. Looks like you dropped this.”
The man understood what was going on. He definitely wasn’t going to borrow or ask anyone for money, but he was grateful for the timely help. It was a heartbreaking and embarrassing situation and he wanted nothing more than to see his kids happy.
He looked at Katharine’s dad, thanked him and accepted the money.
The family bought their tickets and went to see the circus.
Katharine and her dad returned to their car and headed back home. The twenty dollars they had given away was the money they had saved for their own tickets.
While they didn’t get to see the circus that night, they both felt a joy inside that was far greater than seeing the circus could ever bring. The joy of giving.
Such is the joy of giving.
When we give, we open our hearts to receiving.
When my Mom was alive, she always made it a point to carry a bag of giveaways each time she left the house. We kept a huge box by the door into which we’d keep adding things we wanted to donate. It was easy to pick some things from it, put it in a bag, and give it away. Our area has many construction sites and on Thursdays, the temples near our house have long lines of homeless people who would gratefully accept anything we could give them. Often, we cooked and made packets of food to give. On days we couldn’t, we simply bought big packs of buns and distributed them.
When you want to give, it is easy.
So how are you celebrating the Joy of Giving?
Wednesday Wisdom is a series with short bursts of easy-to-consume wisdom in the form of stories, quotes, anecdotes, reflections, easy meditation, thought-provoking questions and humor.