The Christmas Gift That Costs Nothing

christmas-ball-1436086-mI don’t know what kind of month you’ve had, but mine’s been craaaaaaaazy. Aside from finishing my novella, The Black Cats, putting on a HUGE author event at my local library, and working with an editing client on a new project, I’ve been Christmas shopping. And shopping. And shopping. Bye-bye, bank account. It’s been nice knowing you.

In this season of over-spending giving, we want to shower our friends and loved ones with things. We might even donate money to charity. Why? Because we’ve been taught that it’s better to give than receive. And it is. But what if we re-framed Christmas in broader terms? Why stop at just our close circle of friends and family? Why not extend that charity to everyone you come in contact with between now and December 25th?

I’ll show you how, and it won’t cost you a dime.

Before I tell you, let me backtrack to October. This month, I published a short story called The Trash Collector. I pulled the usual levers and offered it for free. Since then, I’ve given away over 300 copies – not bad for literary fiction about a guy who digs through people’s garbage. While it’s garnered many good reviews, one stands out. Let me say upfront that I’m grateful for all of my reviews – ALL OF THEM. They thrill me (well, except a couple), because they mean someone took the time to do me a favor. But I received a five-star review the other day that really made me think. It was a short review, nothing special, but at the end of it, the reader wrote: Thank You!

Thank you.

With those two words, I felt like the hard work I’d put into the story, the editing I did, the cover I designed, the document I formatted, the files I uploaded, and the low, low price of FREE I offered had all been acknowledged. A tip of the hat. A recognition. This got me thinking. How many times do we consume something in an instant with no real understanding of how long it took to create? Or what it took to create it? Or how many people it took to create it? Here’s an extreme example: when you visit an art museum, you may walk by a Rene Magritte painting and smile – his work brought you joy for a fleeting second. But it took years of dedication to his craft and a whole host of people to recognize and promote his genius just for you to take a quick look at a painting on your way to the museum store.

Aaaaand we’re back to Christmas. (not Thanksgiving, I swear)

Saying “thank you” costs nothing, but gives its receiver the huge bounty of acknowledgement that will likely last longer than crummy jingle bell socks or cheap chocolate Santas or dollar store hand lotion. So I’m vowing that between now and Christmas (and beyond), I will say thank you to people and MEAN IT – restaurant servers, store clerks, piano teachers, mail carriers, authors, family, friends…everyone! And I will start with you, dear reader. THANK YOU for stopping by my blog today. Without your visit, my voice would be but an echo.

So remember, these two words are a small gift, but one you can always afford to give. With any luck, you just might receive them in return.


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