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Give A Gift A Day 

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

by Ron Rabou

Yikes! How did another year pass by so quickly? It’s already Christmas again! 

Once again, it’s the middle of December, and the hustle and bustle of the season is in full swing. 

And, once again, I find myself saying, “I’ll start earlier next year.” 

I’m sure next year I’ll have the same conversation with myself again.  

As Christmas nears, the gifts will pile even higher under the tree. The anticipation of a relaxing day with family, watching their excitement as they frantically tear into their presents is something I believe we all look forward to.  

In fact, I think this is perhaps one of the single most rewarding secular aspects of Christmas – the joy we each find by giving to others. To me, it’s always a refreshing reminder our “accumulation” culture is not what creates true happiness and fulfillment.

Just today, after dropping my 12-year-old off at school, I met high school students driving vehicles that cost more than my first house.  

I couldn’t help but think, “What are we teaching our youth? Where is the reward of starting with nothing, working hard, living lean, developing skills and a career and eventually growing into financial security or prosperity?”

Some of these children will never know. The result often becomes absence of humility, compassion, respect and understanding. For some, in their efforts to help their children “fit in,” they unintentionally skew their perception of reality and help create a sense of entitlement.  

I’ve always felt raising our boys on our farm gave us an extraordinary opportunity to teach these values which seem to be more and more absent in today’s society. 

When I grew up, I was expected to work everyday on the family ranch. And if I wasn’t doing something constructive, my parents would make sure they found something for me.

I was never “compensated” for my efforts, but I also never asked for any. As far as I was concerned, this was just what we did. Everyone pitched in, and it’s just the way it was.

For our own children, we felt it was important to pay them for their efforts – sometimes.  I’ve never wanted my boys to expect pay for doing a job that needs to be done or for helping someone who is in need. Sometimes they get paid, sometimes they don’t, and they never know when. And sometimes, they get rewarded simply for having a cheerful spirit and not complaining. 

It’s been a rewarding way to help them see both sides – a dollar for a good day’s work and the joy of helping without compensation because it’s the right thing to do. I am thankful their hearts are filled with a desire and willingness to humble themselves to be of service to others without ever expecting a paycheck in return.

As I reflect on the spirit of Christmas, I wonder what the world would be like if we spent less time expecting something in return. 

We spend a lot of time and money accumulating stuff, creating a perfect life on social media and trying to impress the neighbors. But, what if instead we focused more time and energy on exercising humility, understanding, compassion, respect and an unselfish desire to help others? 

There’s a lot we can do for others every day of the year. It will be a gift to them but will never cost us a dime. 

My challenge to everyone this next year is to “give a gift a day.” In return, you’ll be surprised at the difference it will make in your own life. 

You can come up with your own but here are a few for starters.

1. The gift of love: Tell someone in your life you love them.

2. The gift of kindness: Go out of your way to perform an act of kindness for a stranger.

3. The gifts of appreciation and encouragement: Choose someone who you’ve never met and let them know their efforts and their presence are making a difference in the community.

4. The gifts of patience and understanding: Instead of yelling at the person who just cut you off or is holding you up, give them the space they need. You never know what might be going on in the life of someone else. 

5. The gift of listening: Sometimes we just need to be heard. Truly listen to the heartaches or frustrations of another and don’t provide advice or place judgement. Just listen.

6. The gift of a smile and hello: Smile at a stranger and say hello or ask them how they are doing. It will brighten their day and yours.

7. The gift of laughter: Stop taking yourself and life so seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself and your circumstances. No one likes a crab. Laughter can actually help improve your health.

Finally, may we all be reminded of the greatest gift of all – the gift of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and as you “give a gift a day,” I have no doubt your new year will be packed with fulfillment.

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