Giving has many reasons, but put simply - ‘Tis the season!

December 12, 2021

On Thanksgiving Day, a mere two weeks ago (seems longer), I enjoyed the traditional dinner during the afternoon in one of the Cape Region’s popular restaurants. Since we know that availability of seating is rare on that day, I had reserved a seat at the bar of the restaurant in question. When I arrived, there was a couple already seated at the bar, and I opted to sit at the opposite corner. I paid no particular attention to them, as I enjoyed my roasted Brussels sprouts salad prior to the main course of turkey, dressing and the other usual accompaniments. At some point during my ingesting of the poultry, the couple settled their check and departed the restaurant. Many minutes later, when it became my turn to share my credit card with the establishment, I was informed by the bartender/waiter that the couple had already paid for my dinner. Both shock and surprise overtook me, as I tried (and failed) to ascertain the identity of said couple. I had never seen them before around town, and the odds of ever seeing them again were slim to none, thus I had no way of ever thanking them for their generous act of kindness and giving. What motivated those wonderful people to perform such an act?

What is it within us which drives us to give to somebody we do not know, and whom we have never met? We can examine the entire industry of giving and fundraising, but that is not the type of giving of which I speak. For the record, I highly regard that type of giving, and I am a personal contributor to several worthy causes and organizations. The motivation for that type of giving, or donating as it is better known, is manifold, and we could spend numerous columns on that topic. Even though there are so many organizations tugging at our wallets and bank accounts, I shall pass over this absolutely important aspect of the donor process.

Let us examine that more difficult reality in one’s ability, need or want to give. For example, paying for the meal of the occupants in the automobile behind you in a drive-thru fast-food situation. I have done that twice in my life, and to this day cannot ascertain the true reason. I would imagine and hope that a sizable number of readers may have given something to a stranger at least once at some point in their sojourn on earth.

To attempt to examine the reasons for benevolent behavior would be quite the challenge, but let us at least try. The first thing that comes to mind is that it makes the giver feel good. A sense of satisfaction takes over our being, as we internally examine the act we have just performed. We have done something for no reason whatsoever other than performing a good deed for another human being. It does not really cost the giver that much, just the will to pull the trigger and give. However, to actually give is hard. We ofttimes wonder as to how our act of largess would be received. Yes, there may be a rejection factor involved, and we know how we feel about rejection. It is one of those harsh words in most lexicons. We possibly feel that the intended receiver may view our generosity in a negative way, or as some sort of imposition. To get past that psychological dilemma, merely remember that it is about giving, not receiving. The recognition or appreciation at the other end is not that relevant.

Giving does not necessarily involve material goods; it may be simply a matter of time. The giving of oneself to another as an ear for that person to share a few of his/her thoughts, and seek through some meaningful resolutions. Or it may be a ride to a doctor’s appointment, assistance with a fix-it project, watching a pet or a child, getting and holding the mail. Any kind of giving will do!

I think that giving is part of the human nature and spirit which we probably do all too infrequently, and probably find ourselves a bit fearful of pulling that trigger.

No, we do not want to be used or appear to be a soft touch, but giving is such a beautiful thing, resulting in wins for all involved. In the event, then, that you have not given recently (or even received), ‘Tis the season!


  • Peter E. Carter is a former public school administrator who has served communities in three states as a principal, and district and county superintendent, for 35-plus years. He is a board member for Delaware Botanic Gardens and Cape Henlopen Educational Foundation, and the author of a dual autobiography, “A Black First…the Blackness Continues.”

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