Encouragement: Giving Without Expectation

Sometimes when you give, expecting nothing in return, you receive a surprise.

Evergreen branches & HollyThat’s what happened to me one holiday season.

My two boys were just toddlers, and I (feeling guilty about cutting down trees for Christmas) had decided the year before, the only right course of action was to purchase an artificial tree.

This year I looked at the box…and looked at my husband.

“Do we have to?”

He smiled and quickly agreed that we would forego the boxed tree for a live one. Feeling more than a bit guilty about the money spent, what was I to do with the one-year-old artificial tree?

I called my Mom, who was active in various community groups, and asked her if she could inquire as to who might make use of a tree for Christmas – someone who wouldn’t otherwise have one. She checked around and found a group who could help us. They knew of a family with two young children. The father had medical issues and had missed enough work that they had no money beyond bills.

The group happily agreed to take the tree for the family. My mother had recently decided to downsize her own tree and had boxes of decorations left over. She wanted to donate them along with the tree.

Then the real special stuff started. The stuff we no longer had any control over. We later learned that along with our donation of the tree and decorations, the group decided to add in a donation of $50 for each of the children (this was a lot more money back in that day). Now the parents could go shopping for gifts for the children.

The family, who believed they would have no Christmas celebration that year, ended up with a tree with decorations and some gifts to put underneath.

I have no recollection of the details of our own celebration that year, yet it is one of my most cherished Christmas memories ever. Giving without any expectation in return had turned into a most wonderful gift for my own family.

Evergreen BranchesAnd what about my reluctance to keep cutting down trees for a short-lived celebration? We started purchasing what they call a ‘balled in burlap Christmas tree’ – a pine tree with its roots still intact. Every year, once the holiday was over, we planted the evergreen in our yard, with yet another celebration of giving. And yes, we had plenty of ‘yard’ to hold many years worth of trees!

Do you have a favorite Christmas memory born from that simple act of giving?



  1. Lois Joy Hofmann, Author

    One of my most precious memories of giving was not at Christmas but after a disastrous New Year’s cyclone had hit Tonga. One village of Hunga was especially devastated. With our yacht, Pacific Bliss, anchored in Hunga Lagoon, we sailors and a group of volunteers who worked at a nearby fishing resort trudged up the high crest to the village, burdened with cans and bags of food. This story is posted on my blog at: http://sailorstales.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/giving-is-receiving-in-hunga-lagoon/

    • indy

      Lois, I can see you and Gunter doing this! What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it with us!


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