Essay: Generosity

May 4, 2018

I grew up with a very frugal father.  Having lived through the Great Depression, he had a “cash and carry” philosophy.  This meant you paid cash for purchases and didn’t purchase unless you had cash.

My mother was the opposite of frugal which was a source of problems in the marriage—problems my father often brought to me.  “She spends so much,” he complained but I couldn’t stop her.  What I could do was be careful with money and I still am.

But it’s no accident that my first true love was a man who was generous to a fault.  He didn’t have much money, but he didn’t worry about it—and I admired that.  When a struggling friend once asked for $50, he handed it to her.  “You won’t get it back,” I said.  “I know,”  he said.

Remembering his kindness, I decided to make 2017 my “Year of Living Generously.”  Every time I had to decide how much to tip or to give or to pledge, I did the more generous thing.  Finally, it was no longer a decision, but a habit.

At the end of the year, I thought I’d have less in my checkbook, but I didn’t.  I haven’t done the math because it isn’t about math.  It’s about trying to be someone I admire.