By Karin Beery
One December when I was in elementary school, my parents took my sisters and me to the local Ben Franklin. You remember those variety stores: everything from sewing supplies to home décor to snack foods. This time, however, my parents took us to the usually-off-limits toy aisle.
For the first time ever, we were told to pick any toy we wanted. Then we had to give it away. We each picked a toy. Walked to the register. My dad paid. Then we dropped the gifts into the Toys for Tots box by the front door.
I’m sure there are parts of that story I don’t remember—I’m positive my parents told us what we were doing before we got to the store, but I don’t remember it. I remember wondering if I bought a $10 toy instead of a $25 toy, could I spend the remaining money on myself? (I may have asked about that, but I can’t be certain.) I don’t even remember what toy I picked. What I do remember is the lesson.
My parents didn’t really need me to pick out a toy—they could have done that. They didn’t even need me to tell them which toys were popular—they could have read my Christmas list to figure that out. They didn’t reward us when we got home. We didn’t celebrate our generosity with a cup of hot cocoa. We bought. We gave. We went home.
That day my parents not only taught us to give, they showed us that it’s part of everyday life. It’s nothing special or extraordinary. It’s as normal as grocery shopping and showering.
That lesson has stayed with me my entire life.
Giving—whether it’s at Christmas or any other time of the year—is just part of my life, like paying bills and making dinner. I do it because I can’t imagine not doing it, and that sense of normalcy followed me into my work.
There aren’t a lot of opportunities to give away writing or editing services, but I do what I can. I’ve never been paid for a post on the PEN blog. I’m a member of a professional women’s organization, and I edit all of their documents for free. I don’t buy ad space anywhere, but when the high school or local volunteer theater troupe needs sponsors for their concerts and plays, I’m happy to cut a check.
My business is relatively young and not about to make me a millionaire, but that’s not the point. I give what I can when I can, because, well … I can. I’m forever thankful to my parents for teaching me that lesson. Someday I hope to teach that lesson to my children. Until then, I hope you’ll be inspired to give a little of what you have.
Owner of Write Now Editing and Copywriting Services, Karin Beery specializes in fiction and professional business copy. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the American Christian Writers Association. A Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network member, she is the new fiction editing instructor for the PEN Institute. She is represented by literary agent Steve Hutson at Word Wise Media. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website, www.karinbeery.com.