The Gift of Giving

Christi - Salem, Oregon
Entered on December 12, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

It is better to give than to receive. Virtually every child labels this phrase as a blatant lie. I know I had a hard time believing it as a child. At some point in our lives we all find it somewhat hard to believe. I always liked to give other people nice things, but I never truly thought it better to give those things than to get them.

I began to understand this concept shortly after I turned twelve. One Saturday afternoon, my friends and I, with our parents, found fifty dollars blowing around in a parking lot on our way to dinner. We couldn’t believe our luck, and continued on our way.

A cheerful young waitress graciously waited on our large group, providing us with a constant supply of breadsticks, water, and soft drinks. She laughed along with our parents at conversation they made with her. Through this, we found out that she was a single mother of three, working two evening jobs so she could be home to raise her kids.

Touched by this selfless mother’s sacrifice, a few of us kids remembered the fifty dollars we had found. We asked our parents if we could leave this young woman an extraordinarily large tip to help her out. They agreed, and once we had all finished our dinner, we presented the money to the speechless mother, thanking her for her excellent service and telling her that we admired her choice to stay home with her kids.

At first, she told us that she couldn’t possibly accept such a large tip, but we insisted that she take it. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she thanked us again and again. For the rest of the night, I had an indescribable (but wonderful) feeling inside, something I honestly can’t explain.

That evening, I realized what the old phrase truly meant. Previously, I had always thought that giving meant relinquishing your own things to someone else; all the while wishing you had a present too. But I had been unable to grasp the entire concept. This event caused me to understand how giving is as much to the benefit of the giver as to the receiver. As this realization came to light, I became genuinely elated that I had been a part in helping a young mother going through a difficult time in her life.

And so, if I believe in one thing, I believe in giving. Be it a small contribution or a large gift; a donation of money or a donation of time; a shoulder to cry on or a hand to help up; be it on the giving end or the receiving—giving to another human being seems to warm the soul. Perhaps because, when we help others, we also help ourselves by improving our character. Many feel that by doing so, we can create a difference in our tiny corner of the world. I couldn’t agree more.