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In the season of joy, think of how to receive by giving

Joy. Unspeakable joy. It is now the season that many people comment on this very concept. Joy sometimes seems abstract. Everyone seems to want to pursue joy but no one gives you a map to get there.

I had to attend a friend’s birthday party this weekend. The celebration was held at a dive bar off of Route 161. I drove there with one of my gal pals, Lisa, and she told me that she “adopted” a little boy for the Christmas season. It was during our conversation on the way to the party that I was reminded about the human spirit.

Lisa was moved because this kid did not ask for a sled, Transformer action figure or Xbox. The boy asked for a winter coat. He told her he needed a hat and gloves and some pants. This kid did not ask for Jordans but he asked for socks. When she told me what he had conveyed to her, my heart broke with compassion. His story is not news to me, but it was Lisa’s reaction to his needs that made me think about joy.

College is a very privileged place. Most of the time, many of us are more concerned about deciding whether to have Chipotle or Noodles. We are not thinking about the fact that one in seven people in Ohio are hungry, according to the Hunger Alliance Network. There are many people who are not getting their basic needs. Most of the time, they are children who have no choice in the matter.

Perhaps one of the ways to obtain joy is to recognize the human needs of others and react to those needs by giving. Maybe joy is to love people and choosing to act on that love. When love becomes a verb, we then tap into the mystery that is joy.

Humans are not unlike other mammals in the fact that we all thrive better in communities. The joy found in giving and connecting teaches each of us about ourselves. Cultivating community can be a source of joy.

As people exercise their role in capitalism this season, I hope that we all meditate on joy. That all of us, like my friend Lisa, adopt a person who goes without and meet his or her needs. I hope we find that giving brings joy, and that giving does not have to be designated to just one time of year.

I am buying a pair of TOMS shoes this season. I know that act can contribute to a movement to help marginalized kids all over the world have shoes. Because of my purchase, a child somewhere will know that someone cares. This is one of the million ways that people can use their purchasing power to make a difference. This purchase is one of the ways I plan to tap into joy. Make sure you find yours.

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