The Spirit of Giving

Dear Reader,

This greeting comes long overdue, but “happy November!”

If you divide the months into four quarters, the last and — perhaps, most eventful — quarter would be October, November, December. I am just now coming down from my Halloween hype (more here) and the election excitement (regardless of your political affiliation, that was doozy though, right??) and I am beginning to celebrate November.

On November 1st, I woke up bright and early—thanks in part to the end of Daylight Savings Time on this morning—and took a walk around the neighborhood. To steal a line from The Mamas & the Papas, “all the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey.” The leaves were as much on the ground as they were on the trees and just as many trees were green as they were yellow, red, and orange. Although it is only mid-fall, there was icy slush left on the ground from a freak snowfall two days prior (side note, exactly one week later it was 73 degrees and sunny out — oh, Boston).

When I see the word November in my head, it is always spelled out in brown letters. The month doesn’t stick out, save for Thanksgiving. If you were to visit your local drugstore on November 1st, you would see the discounted candy and bright orange Halloween décor symbolizing October and the firetruck red and forest green displays for December (and maybe even a small blue and silver section for Chanukah, if you’re lucky). However, there is not usually a Thanksgiving aisle. November can feel like the “red-headed stepchild” month. And, I’m sure if there were a Thanksgiving aisle, like the lettering in my head, the color on display here would also be brown.

Thanksgiving is about giving and also receiving. In that spirit, I have embarked on a giving spree of my own. I love social media and I’m not ashamed to say that. Facebook can do some pretty good things when well-intentioned people use it to their advantage. We all know that there are marketplaces on Facebook dedicated to buying and selling items, but there are also hidden little communities devoted to giving and receiving, all cost free. In these communities, neighbors offer used items that they are willing to part with and community members can comment on the post to claim the item. There are rules governing interactions and these groups are generally closed off to the public. However, if one searches on Facebook terms such as “buy nothing (city name),” “gifting (city name),” or even “Exchange (city name),” one can find private groups (you must commit to the group rules to join) where free exchanges occur all the time.

I signed up for a few of these groups in my community and was surprised by how good it felt to just give it all away. I enjoyed going through the apartment and finding quality items that no longer have a place in my life. Why throw these things away when others could use them? To start off my giving spree, I planned to give away a hot water kettle I had. There was nothing wrong with it, I just ended up getting a newer one. I took a few pictures of the kettle, listed the item on Facebook, and in under an hour, someone reached out to me and we coordinated a time to perform the exchange. These past two weeks, I have had similarly quick turnaround times for items including extra spools of thread (I had a mask-sewing hobby, more here), a large can of pineapple juice, and decaf coffee (the taste of which I was less than enthusiastic about).   

On these groups, people can also ask for things that they are in search of as well. Posts dedicated to searches for winter coats, boots, and other basic items are common this time of the year. Additionally, such groups sometimes (not always) allow members to post “curb alerts” which call attention to free items left on the street, such as couches, chairs, and other furniture. Not only do such groups help foster the spirit of giving in the community, but they also unwittingly promote a spirit of deterring unnecessary waste. Why waste when someone else can reuse? Honestly, for me, if it had not been for these convenient Facebook groups, I’m sure my few extra spools of thread would have landed straight in the trash.

It can be fun to look through old items and clear out “junk.” In my experience, it feels like a literal relief to lighten my load by the weight of a box of coffee here or a few books there. If you find November to be a drag pre-Thanksgiving and Black Friday, try getting into the spirit of giving. It’s a win-win!



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