I wrote last week about the Monster Zucchini my neighbor gave us. Since then we’ve been the recipient of several other generous gifts. What makes people so generous with some things and not with others? Is it in the nature of the giver or the nature of the gift?
The second gift started with an idea from a friend of mine. I’d give you her name, but she’s a little shy. Anyway, her idea was that she wanted to make some sweet tomato relish and some sweet pickles.
“Have you ever made any?” she said.
“No, but I’d like to. Can I come help?”
We set a date, and we set to work. We peeled and chopped and seeded and ground and made a big mess. I dripped tomato pulp on the floor and she used every pot in her kitchen and a couple I had brought. We ended up with a gallon of sweet pickles and 10 pints of relish, then we sat in the living room and gossiped while we listened for the jars to pop as they sealed. Even though she had paid for all the ingredients, she sent me home with pickles and relish and assurances that if we didn’t like them, we’d adjust the recipes and make another batch.
A few days later Aunt Fay invited us over for a visit and to “shop” in her garden. We went home with a shopping bag full of new potatoes, squash, zucchini (small ones), yellow squash, cucumbers, jalapenos, and onions. On the way home, we stopped by to visit our neighbor, and although we demurred on his offer of more zucchini, we took home several large bulbs of garlic.
There are lots of other examples of sharing all around us. Friends and family pitch in to cut and bail hay, or they water and pick when the gardener is out of town. Bowls and boxes of fresh produce appear on the counters at the Senior Center, available on a first come, first served basis. Excess eggs are brought to church to share with whoever needs them.
Going back to my original question, what makes people so generous with some things and not with others? Do generous people intentionally plant more than they can use, or does receiving a bountiful harvest make people feel more generous? Does the perishable nature of the produce make people more willing to share what they can’t use? If it wasn’t so much work to preserve the excess, would people be less generous? If the way we handle our money is any example, it would seem so. We are certainly willing to store up our excess money “where moth and rust corrupts and where thieves break through and steal.” I wonder if we would be more generous with our money if it was printed with an expiration date.
I don’t have any answers, but I’m enjoying the generosity we’ve received. Tonight I’m going to try a new recipe for stuffed zucchini, and if I get a good crop from my scrawny little garden, I promise to share.