Having the opportunity to give without expectation of reciprocation is something I’m enjoying tremendously. Another part of giving I enjoy is giving without any feelings of obligation. To give someone a gift that they didn’t expect is so much fun. Living here in Panama I’m finding that I have unending opportunities to do just that. To give without expecting anything in return is gratifying on so many levels and makes my holiday great. Although, while I may not receive anything in return in the material sense I receive so much more that feeds my soul than any material possession could ever do! Especially this time of year when I reminisce about Christmas’s of past I feel deeply rewarded by the opportunities I have here to give in simple ways to those who expect nothing.
My experiences of giving to others here in this little town is rewarding in many ways. For one, the small tokens of kindness bestowed to others here are accepted with gratitude expressed in huge smiles. This year I initiated my own little way to give and man has it been fun! . There are endless organizations here to help the needy and to donate to those less fortunate. While I’m glad there are so many who enjoy getting involved in the community in this way, I prefer to find my own quiet ways to make small contributions. Does it really matter how we choose to give? I think not! I think when we have a desire to give and we find a way to do that which feels right , then by all means its never wrong. So, my own little Operation “Random Acts Of Kindness” has been in full force this month.
This idea came to me after I bought a box of 38 little toy cars from PriceSmart. I like to give my 6 neighbor kids who live down the street a little something for Christmas each year and I bought this box of cars to give to them but then changed my mind. I found other things to give them and decided it would be a good idea to open this box of little toy cars and wrap them all individually, keep them in a bag in my car and see if I find any opportunities to hand them out to random Indigenous kids I see walking or sitting at a bus stop with mom. The first little guy I noticed sitting on his moms lap at a bus stop across the street from a little market I stopped at to buy a Scott more beer (gotta keep him well stocked up!). After making my purchase and putting it in my car, I took my little bag of cars, walked across the street up to this mom and her little boy. I said, “Yo tengo uno regalo para el niño”. They both looked at me in stunned silence as I reached into my bag and handed him two little presents. I simply said, “Feliz Navidad” , turned around and walked away. As I drove away I watched in my rear view mirror as he opened the presents and smiled, looking up at his mother who also had a smile on her face. My heart very nearly burst with joy at this sight. This, my friends, is what the holidays are about and the gift of seeing that little smile was more precious to me than anything that can be bought and placed under a tree.
This idea has been one of pure genius for me! (If I do say so! hah!) I’ve handed out all my little toy cars to random kids I’ve seen on the side of the road. Stopping many times as I drive up the hill back to my house. I put my hazard lights on , roll down my window and say to the mom or dad.. “Venga!” (Come here!) “Tengo regalo para los niños”…”Feliz Navidad!”…and drive away. Sigh….Oh yea! This, for me is giving at its best! It warms my heart to think of the joy that little toy car has given to many little children this Holiday Season. Next year I need to find a little girl toy! I can see I’ve found a way to spread holiday cheer that suits me just right. Who knows, I may randomly do this more often! But, for now I’m feeling very festive when I think about how the faces of the mom’s and dad’s of these children change when they walk up to this strange Gringa’s car. They at first look angry or even a little mean, and then the smile immediately changes their entire face. They say “Gracias” and the smile they give me is a heartwarming gift that I treasure as I drive away
The saying “To give is to receive” is made ever so true to me with my “Operation Random Acts of Kindness”. My heart is happy and I’ve received so much from this simple act of giving. And, the bonus is that I haven’t even racked up any credit card debt! Life is good. I hope your holidays are filled with experiences that warm your heart and make you feel blessed in countless ways. Merry Christmas!