Generosity comes in many forms, and we don’t always recognize it when we see it. What one person views as an act of kindness can be a source of frustration for someone else. This week, we’re sharing a few stories of generosity to explore the different ways it can reveal itself — and what that says about us.
One story that puts those differences in perspective features Tim and Ayana Sumner. Tim and Ayana have very different views of Christmas. Tim calls Ayana “the Grinch” for how close she watches their budget each year. And every year, despite her best efforts, Tim goes all out. From trees and decorations to extravagant gifts. Somehow, Tim’s holiday joy always finds a way to win.
Especially last year, when Tim decided to buy a fishing trip for Ayana’s whole family. Ayana had just had their second child, and energy — and funds — were low. Even though she was well aware of whom she was married to, Ayana said the only thing she wanted was to “just pretend like there was no Christmas this year.”
When Tim told Ayana, she shut it down. But he just couldn’t resist. After all, Christmas was the most magical time of year for him growing up, and it was just too important to him to share that magic with his kids. These big displays of holiday spirit, including gifts, were part of Tim’s upbringing. Having been raised that way, he had a hard time understanding Ayana’s perspective, shaped by a family that pretty much pretended Christmas didn’t exist.
“It definitely makes me sad to think what I thought was just a unanimously good time for most people could really trigger a lot of financial anxiety,” he said. “I think it’s my mission to try to reverse the curse.”
Finally, we’ll hear from Carissa. Carissa was rebuilding her life in the wake of a relationship with a controlling and abusive partner, and she wanted to start with making a gift registry, something her ex-husband wouldn’t allow. Though many people she knew “in real life” didn’t buy anything for her, she was able to rediscover her independence — and connect with a new community — through the kindness of strangers.
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