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Jewish Journal

The Giving Season

by Honey Lazar

December 19, 2013 | 5:55 am

This is the season for holiday mail.  Catalogues stuff my rural box, while cyber reminders of deals and sales stack my in box with temptations. This year, I get Aunt Ruth’s mail.  She doesn’t get Williams Sonoma or Neiman Marcus.  She gets letters from Sloan-Kettering, Hadassah, The Policeman's Fund, The Free Clinic, Catholic Charities, The Jewish Community Center, and organizations I didn’t know existed.

Aunt Ruth believed that helping people, loving people was simple to do.  She gave something to everyone who wrote to her from a dollar to ten, because she thought that this was the right thing to do.  “Imagine how many mouths the Salvation Army could feed or new research for cancer could be funded, if everyone gave something?” she would ask off-handedly.  She’d add, “If you don’t have money, then give your time.”  She talked like this as if the lessons were filling space like commas, because she wasn’t preaching.  She was narrating her daily life.

I get her mail now.  I stack the envelopes and watch the Giving Tower grow.  Her goodness shines light on everything she taught me, everything she did, and everything she hoped others would do.Aunt Ruth said, “Everything is better shared.”  Little by little adds up to a lot, and a lot surely makes for better.  I know it is trite, but Aunt Ruth didn’t have a Giving Season, and my hope is that her Giving Tower inspires me towards kindness, because opportunity is always right in front of me.  It can be as easy as answering the phone with a happy voice.


My dad’s photographic legacy taught me that a camera is a key to open doors or hearts.  Aunt Ruth opened the door to her apartment and let me photograph her life, and my heart has been full ever since

May her Giving Tower inspire you to start yours, but most of all, thank YOU for Loving Aunt Ruth.

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