The Most Precious Gift
Jay and daughter Morgan share thoughts on the ‘Magic of Giving'
There is a magic in giving. There’s a certain feeling of joy when you give a gift to a family member – especially a child – or to a close friend. And then you see their face light up with gleeful smile. Hugely appreciated. You really ‘nailed it.’ Gave them something they’ll truly love. So, fantastic. Yet, there’s a way to do even more – and this involves not just giving a gift, like a present, but the giving of yourself. Giving your time, donating your efforts, sharing advice, mentorship and essentially, sharing a part of yourself.
It's often said that the holidays are the ‘season of giving.’ The tradition of giving and receiving presents is certainly one of the many exciting activities we participate in during this time of year. The joy of that comes with not knowing what you’ve received and then unwrapping a present on Christmas morning for example is a truly magical feeling. Yet there’s also something to be said about the magic of giving, and what the act of giving, beyond even a neatly wrapped present, can do for ourselves, and for others.
In fact, there’s an interesting little phenomenon we experience when we give called ‘helper’s high.’ Helper’s high is a distinct physical sensation associated with helping or giving. Think back to a moment when you’ve leant someone in need a hand or seen the joy on someone’s face after giving them a gift they’ve really wanted. That sensation is a real thing our bodies experience that helps us feel calmer, happier, and more valued. Giving and generosity actually activates regions of our brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating that warm glow we might feel when we’ve shared part of ourselves with others.
Not only that, when we tend to give, we create stronger bonds with others. I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase ‘you get what you give’ and by giving, we’ll tend to receive more in return. Being kind and generous can help to positively change our perspective of others because of the trust it builds. More often than not, others may feel more inclined to give back to us as a result. When we give, we don’t only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity that can have incredibly positive implications within our family, social circles, and communities. As one researcher writes, giving and generosity, “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”
Generosity comes in so many different forms. So, whether you’re buying gifts, volunteering your time, or donated money to a charity this holiday season, what you give is so much more than just some year-end chore. It could help you build stronger connections with family or friends, or even inspire others to act more generously. The great thing too, is that practicing generosity and giving isn’t strictly reserved for the holidays, it’s something we can do at any time throughout the year. Not only that, it’s almost certain to bring you joy, happiness and sense of fulfilment all throughout the year. Why not give it a try.
The Tower of Toys…and Joy!
Here’s an amazing story of giving. Involves Christmas time, kids and a real life 'Tower of Toys.'
Eleven years ago, Brian Lawrence and Larry Thibodeau were having a conversation while standing in front of the glass enclosed space that sits right below the huge window which fills the entire south side of the atrium in the Beacon Building in Manchester. Larry is the Senior Partner and Co-founder of Flexecution and a tenant in Brian and Laurie Lawrence’s building located at 814 Elm St. It’s one of the most beautiful in the city and has several hidden treasures plus, this time of year it's always decked out for Christmas! Larry and his company have always had a big heart for helping people and is reflected in their philanthropy focus which is to give back to charities that have an impact on the communities they serve i.e., they are longtime supporters of St Jude's Research Hospital's Fitness for a Cure. And helping others is not something new to the Lawrence Family as they have been major benefactors to the Manchester community for years.
So, it's no surprise that their conversation was the genesis for the Tower of Toys especially when Larry said, "why don't we fill it with a tower of toys?" Larry and Brian asked a few businesses if they would like to participate and sponsor the event in which they envisioned would culminate in parents being able to come and get toys for their children. What was really unique and special is that there were no questions asked or forms to be filled out. Adults would come and tell the volunteers (many dressed as elves!) who were helping, the names and ages of their children and then pick out their toys.
As word spread over the years, more sponsors, volunteers, and donations flowed in. The distribution of toys was during certain times on Friday through Sunday and usually around mid-December. The lines would sometimes flow around the building as people waited to get into this Christmas Wonderland. Santa would often visit those waiting while spreading his Christmas cheer. Many of the volunteers have been doing so since the very beginning and when asked why they'll tell you - to see the joy in people's faces as they pick out toys to give to their children is just incredible and absolutely worth it.
Last year Doug Martin, VP and Principal at Colliers International helped take giving of both donations and toys to a whole new level. And it set the bar for this year's giving which has thus far totaled $30,000. Industry East and Shopper's Pub + Eatery generously donated a portion of their sales on Sat Dec 10th to the Tower of Toys. WMUR, the Union Leader and Manchester Ink Link all spotlighted the event with excellent coverage. The format was changed slightly this year as the donations were distributed to various nonprofits throughout the region. We encourage you to support this very important effort that helps lift up those in the community that need an extra hand especially during this time of year. Please bookmark www.toweroftoys.org to learn more and be ready to help give next year.
The Good King: Alex Ray of New Hampshire
Generosity is at the heart of Christmas. This meaning is also found in the lyrics of the Christmas Carol of ‘Good King Wenceslas. The story in the song is that on the Feast of Stephen - December 26th - King Wenceslas saw a man gathering winter fuel in the deep snow and bitter weather. When the king asked where the man lived, he discovered that he lived far off. The king immediately asked his page to gather a feast for this man, and the king himself went out into the elements and brought the man back into his palace to bless him with a Christmas feast.
The carol is based on a true story, but instead of a King, it was a duke in the Czech Republic in the 10th century. It was not until 1858 did the story appear in song form by the English hymn writer John Mason Neale.
You might not know it, but we have our very own Good King Wenceslas in New Hampshire, in the person of Alex Ray, owner of the Common Man Family of Restaurants and Inns. Every Christmas, Alex takes the homeless veterans from Boulder Point Veterans Housing, in partnership with Harbor Care Veterans, on Christmas day and treats them to a festive Christmas feast at one of his restaurants and gives them tickets to see ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ at the local theater.
Alex’s generosity is not limited to the Christmas season as monthly he and his team provide meals to the veterans while hosting activities and speakers for their entertainment.
Alex is the epitome of the Good King and encourages us all to emulate what was expressed so well in the ending lyrics of the carol:
Ye, who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find a blessing.
Positive Profile of the Week: Santa Claus
This week we are delighted to highlight a dear friend, positive spirit and leading citizen of the North Pole, the man we often refer to as just ‘Santa.’
And, ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.’ He is actually known throughout the world by many names: Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Papa Noel, Sinterklass, Weihnachtsmann, Babbo Natale and simply as Santa. He is a jolly, white-bearded man who lives far away in the North Pole and takes on the task of delivering presents to children all around the world on Christmas Eve. He is assisted by a team of elves, who throughout the year help him make all of these wonderful presents.
Not surprisingly, Santa’s workshop is filled with many different types of equipment, materials, and machines that help the elves create all the presents in a timely manner as everything has to be done by Christmas Eve. The workshop is also home to a number of reindeer, who help Santa pull his sleigh on his annual journey. Rumor has it one of the reindeer has a red nose!
The logistics of delivering presents to all the children in the world on Christmas Eve is a daunting task that puts Amazon to shame. Santa and his elves have to carefully plan the route, making sure to take into account all the different time zones and the number of presents that need to be delivered in each location. This is further complicated by the other role Santa plays: Judge of all who are naughty or nice. However, Santa has been known to change a “naughty” to a “nice” with the good-hearted bribe of some delicious cookies and milk!
This Christmas be sure to keep Santa in your thoughts as he traverses the globe delivering joy to millions of children!
Quotes of the Week: The Magic of Giving
“It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Teresa
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank
“Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.” Jim Rohn
“The degree of loving is measured by the degree of giving.” Edwin Louis Cole
“To do more for the world than the world does for you – that is success.” Henry Ford