“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” — Aesop
By: Emily Groleau, Root & Seed Editor
With the winter season in full swing, we wanted to briefly reflect on a common theme that is threaded throughout this time of year: giving. As wonderful as it can feel to receive gifts, giving them can be even more rewarding, for ourselves and especially for those around us. The spirit of giving can show up in so many ways, and luckily, material value is unnecessary for some gifts to be worth treasuring. We can certainly give money or items towards causes and people we care about, but we can also volunteer our time and skills. Sometimes, simply lending an ear and listening is enough to make a world of difference in another’s life.
Reaching out to the Root & Seed community, we discovered that the theme of giving appears this time of year in some truly beautiful ways.
Generosity In Our Community
Donating is always a great way to give back, even if you don’t think your contribution is particularly big or impressive. If you’re a parent, there’s also the added opportunity to impart important lessons to children through donating. As Jenn shares:
“A new tradition we have with our kids is to take them to the toy store and let them pick out a cart full of toys to donate to the local food bank. It helps them realize that gifts can be expensive and they get to put thought into what other children who have less might like. The opportunity to deliver them along with donations of food is also very meaningful for us.”
‘Kindness for kindness’ sake’ can be incredibly impactful, whether a kind act is planned or inspired on the spur-of-the-moment. One of Michelle’s most vivid memories from her childhood involves her father, who once took her for a drive in Toronto during a snowstorm to help others in need:
“It was late, near my bedtime, so I was thrilled to go out,” she recalls. “My dad drove slowly and carefully, scouring the streets for people walking home, people who really shouldn’t be out in that sort of weather: parents and kids, older people, people with disabilities. He would stop his car, ask the person if he could drive them. I was in the car for them to feel safe.”
Today, Michelle continues to take inspiration from her father’s actions, and she hopes to instill similar values in the next generation of her family:
“I just want my kid to have this same thing as part of his upbringing. This sort of kindness for kindness’s sake is the stuff of magic.”
A labour of love should never be underestimated. Big or small, there’s a lot of time and care that goes into these kinds of gifts during the holidays. Maybe around this time of year you cook up comfort foods for friends feeling under the weather or shovel their driveway. Some people pour hours into crafting woolly winter mittens to keep others in their city warm as temperatures drop, and others work to perfect the best cookie recipe so they can share their baking with the neighbours. In Petra’s case, she recommends heading to the kitchen to make a (near) guaranteed crowd-pleaser: homemade Baileys. Each Christmas, Petra recreates this recipe for her own friends and family:
“Everyone needs to get in on this. It’s so easy, makes such a nice, thoughtful gift (you can pick up really cute bottles at Kitchen Stuff Plus and tie some ribbon around it), and in my humble opinion it’s 10x better than the real stuff.”
Unsurprisingly, Petra was generous enough to share her Baileys recipe for others to partake in this holiday season:
1 cup cream (the heavier the cream, the thicker it’ll be)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp chocolate syrup
1 tsp instant espresso granules
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1⅔ cup Irish whiskey (I used Jameson)
Blend & Enjoy
The Tradition of Giving
In thinking back on your own holiday traditions, are there any memories or stories of giving that really stick out? We don’t always see the significance in little things, but maybe as a child you just loved playing host around the holidays every year, insisting on hanging up everyone’s coats as they stepped through the door. Or perhaps a generous parent or adult (like Michelle’s father), was an inspiring role model for you. Over time, some traditions evolve—that thoughtful kid may have grown up to become a generous cook and dinner host, for instance. Other traditions of giving may have fallen off the radar when life got hectic. Going forward, are there any giving traditions you’d like to bring back, or new ones you’d like to start in 2022?
Recording family traditions of charity are wonderful stories to keep on the Root & Seed Conversation Tool, where we offer thought-provoking prompts specific to giving back to the community under the “Traditions” topic! Take a look and start a conversation with your loved ones today.
Share your memories and thoughts on holiday giving with our community in the comments below!