One memory as a child animates Stanley’s life.
One exchange between him and his father when he was six years old motivates him every day.
He is now 96 years old.
His conversation with his Dad at a young age offers a timely and timeless message for the holiday season. It is a powerful reminder of what this season is all about.
Stanley lives in Cleveland and shared his story at the conclusion of presentation on leading a life of legacy and the potential for daily impact on the world.
He reflected that as a young boy he was out to dinner with his family at a local restaurant. While enjoying a delicious meal with his parents, a disheveled young boy came to their table and asked his father for a nickel. He needed the money. Stanley remembers vividly that his father refused the request and the boy walked away.
After the main course, it was time for dessert. Stanley’s dad asked him what he would like to eat as a treat. Looking back, Stanley was not sure what overcame him, but he asked his father, “Dad, if I skip dessert can you use the money saved to give the child a nickel?” His father agreed and pulled five cents out of his pocket and gave it to the boy.
Stanley then shared the following with everyone assembled in the room. “This event happened in my life almost 90 years ago but I live my life with the memory seared on my soul. I always try to give up a little dessert, so I can give someone else a nickel. I do my best to move outside my comfort zone and give up a little bit so that someone else can have something more.”
It is easy during the holiday season to get caught up in the accumulation of gifts. The commercialization beckons us to purchase more items and promises happiness when we own the latest gadgets. Yet a truly blessed life is not the product of receiving more, but making do with less so that someone else who really needs the support can benefit from our generosity.
This holiday season ask yourself, “What is my dessert? What can I do without?” Perhaps it is money, but it may be time. Then use it to share some light with another human being.
It may be as little as a $5 or $10 donation to a charity of your choice. Don’t underestimate that a small gift may have a huge impact. A woman in our community always carries a $20 bill with her to purchase the newspapers still left to sell by an older man off the highway so he can spend the rest of his day with his family. It could be your time. Skip watching a show on TV, and donate that 60 minutes to an important cause.
Here’s a secret: Your children or grandchildren are watching. What you do will not only impact the recipients of your gift, but you are modeling a life of generosity that will be instilled in the hearts of your loved ones for future generations.
This holiday season, heed the words of Anne Frank, who reflected, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Click here to purchase Rabbi Daniel Cohen’s book, What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone?