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The Joy of Giving

by Vidya Sury October 2, 2019 8 comments
The Joy of giving

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.

Joy of giving Seek joy in what you give

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.

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Olivier Devroede October 5, 2019 at 1:18 am

Great post. People often forget that giving is far more rewarding than receiving. I tell people to look how they relate to their children. The reward is in givng them all they need and it makes them happy.
Once you get that, you can open up wider, and see that helping friends is indeed also something that gives fulfillment. Just a little step and we are at stranger, the whole world.
Olivier Devroede recently posted…The benefits of meditating before going to sleep.

Parul Thakur October 7, 2019 at 5:00 pm

What a lovely story, Vidya. It brought a smile and warmed my heart. Thank you for sharing. I remember from your earlier posts on how your Mum and you had a tradition of giving. This is beautiful. True that what you give, comes back.
Parul Thakur recently posted…Why should you try travel photography?

Denawa October 8, 2019 at 8:34 am

Great post! I think sometimes we forget how fulfilling giving can really be. This was a wonderful story and a great reminder to us all the possibilities of giving. My grandmother was the most giving person I have ever met, she would give her very last to anyone who needed it. Just a true love for others, thank you so much for this post.

Julie October 8, 2019 at 11:34 am

I loved this! It is so very true that giving can fulfil you in other ways as well.

Vicki Patton October 8, 2019 at 8:31 pm

What a beautiful story! I tend to give more in the moment like Katherine and her father than something planned like how your mother would. This is a wonderful reminder that giving can bring so much unexpected joy.
Vicki Patton recently posted…How To Launch Your Own Virtual Assistant VA Business

Vidya Sury October 8, 2019 at 9:42 pm

Thank you, Vicki! I agree, giving in the spur of the moment is a wonderful feeling!
My Mom–well, she was always giving something away, or helping people. That box near our front door was a way to collect things so that we always had something to grab and carry with us when we stepped out. What a great way to declutter and feel great about it. 🙂

Lynne October 9, 2019 at 2:27 pm

This is such a beautiful story Vidya. Giving to others without any expectations really is wonderful.

Something that has opened up my kids eyes and something we now do every year (and we are about to get started for this year) is the Santa Shoebox. It is a Christmas program in South Africa – you go onto their website and choose a child to pledge a Santa Shoebox to and then you go and buy all the items listed and fill a Shoebox with all the goodies and then decorate the box.

My kids were so shocked to learn that we have to put in things like a toothbrush, a facecloth, soap and other toiletries along with clothing, school stationary and then a toy. My kids are so fortunate they have never considered that other kids even need things like that and the thought of getting a toothbrush for Christmas confused them. It has been such an educational activity for my kids. Now they love choosing their child to pledge to every year and choosing all the things to add to the box.

If one is in a place to help others we should always try our best to.

Mike | PositiveThinkingMind April 13, 2020 at 8:05 pm

People often forget that giving is far more rewarding than receiving. It brought a smile and warmed my heart. Thank you for sharing.
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