By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
While Thanksgiving reflects on gratitude, Christmas signals a deeper message. Well, yeah, what are you going to do about your gratitude?
Gifts are one of the means to express your gratitude. What gifts should you give to enhance joy, love, and play, and the wellbeing of yourself and others?
The gift of money
The easiest form of giving is money, some say. It allows flexibility for the receivers to do anything they want with the money. Don’t worry about the amount you give. It’s the thought that counts. Give whatever you can to charities and the needy. If someone tells you that the amount you’re giving is too small, you can say, “Take it or leave it.”
A young woman who approached me, didn’t look like one of those people who begged because she was well-dressed. “Do you have $20 to spare?” she asked.
“How do I know you won’t take the money to buy drugs?” I confronted her.
“That’s true,” she said. My words immediately created an effect. To my surprise, she walked away without badgering me. But I have instant regrets. Was she a drug addict? Or not?
I should have asked instead, “Does $20 really solve your problem?” It’s an opportunity to prompt her to give more information about the kind of help she really needed. The question could have turned out to be a more meaningful gift, but she walked away instead.
Another time, a middle-aged woman stood outside a Chinatown-International District (CID) restaurant and asked me if I could buy her food. Her face was red and dry due to exposure in the cold weather and her fingers were cracked. I was about to enter the restaurant when she made the request.
“What do you need?” I responded.
“A coconut bread and a hot dog bun,” she replied. Wow! She knew a lot about CID restaurants.
“Wait here,” I told her as she was going to follow me inside the restaurant.
I was happy to buy her food, knowing that she won’t use my money for drugs. Only one problem—that hot dog and coconut bun would only last for a couple of hours. And she will be back to square one, she has no money or a job. No housing perhaps. One of my long-time friends said, “I only want to help people who want to help themselves.”
He has a point. What if those who ask for help, ask for more meaningful gifts rather than a short-term solution? Major Jonathan Harvey of Salvation Army, said, if you love and care for yourself, “you are accountable, you are employable.” If these people have a job, it may solve many of their problems. When you are working, you don’t have too much time to feel sorry for yourself or think of nonsense. When you are making a living for yourself, you have more self-esteem. You don’t have time to make troubles such as doping and picking fights.
The gift of self-love
How do I laugh more? How do I remind myself to smile more even when people say mean stuff and that I don’t over react? What can I do to embrace more comforting thoughts? How do I relax my mind under stress? None of these things cost much money. The answer lies in my habits for daily living by giving myself more “me” time instead of back-to-back meetings or assignments. No, I won’t do any more Zoom meetings. I won’t take on more than I should or would. It’s called “delegating to other people.”
Love also means showing appreciation for the efforts and work of others. It doesn’t mean those people who have helped you or you get the benefit. You can reward those who have done a good job for this community by surprising them with a delicious meal. It’s the end of the year, and it’s wonderful to offer food from CID restaurants for their holiday lunch. I just did it for one small organization. It’s so convenient. They can order whatever they want, and I pay for it. And they pick up the food themselves. It’s killing two birds with one stone.
The gift of food
Lam’s has its own public safety issues, where transients like to congregate outside the store, and sometimes they shoplift. Despite its challenges, it has not forgotten to support the community.
This weekend, Lam’s plans to give away 25-pound bags of Jasmine rice and a bag full of groceries free to 800 families in need—400 bags from each of their two stores, including the one in Tukwila. The grocery bags contain chicken, cooking sauces, apples, oranges, cabbages, potatoes, onions, carrots, and noodle packages. The only thing the receiver needed to do was register on Lam’s or Friends of Little Saigon’s Facebook pages. Registration opened on Dec. 9, and as of Dec.13, registration reached its goal of 800 families.
Asked if there were other requirements to get the free groceries, Teizi Mersai, Lam’s operations manager, said, “We don’t judge. There are no restrictions or requirements. It’s open to anyone.”
This is the second time Lam’s has given out free groceries to families in the community. It began in 2020, but discontinued in 2021 due to supply chain issues. This year’s project is in partnership with Friends of Little Saigon, a nonprofit community-advocate organization.
If you love music and arts, this is a good time to support the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB), and local theaters. They have fabulous programs in December. I highly recommend Beethoven Symphony No. 9 on Dec. 28 to Dec. 30. I went a few years ago. It’s a concert I will never forget.
And PNB’s Nutcracker is amazing. I was there before. A fun show, this would be good for the whole family. And Mr. Dickens and his Carol at the Seattle Rep will end on Dec. 23. It’s a show I have been watching every year on TV. What a treat to watch it live this year!
Every December, I would sing Christmas carols. And I pick one favorite song every year. This year, it’s “Mary Did You Know.” This is the song I sing in my shower most of my days in December. My husband teased, “Keep working on it.” That means I sing terribly. Who cares? It’s a joy to sing it just for me, and no one else in this world.
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.