(I found this through a link on an email sent out by DharmaCrafts.)
According to the teachings, there are three types of generosity, three ways of helping others by giving of ourselves.
The first kind of generosity is the giving of material things, such as food and shelter.
The second is "giving the gift of fearlessness." We help those who are afraid. If someone is scared of the dark, we give them a flashlight; if they're going through a fearful time, we comfort them; if they're having night terrors, we sleep next to them. This may sound easy, but it takes time and effort and care.
The third kind of generosity drives away the darkness of ignorance. This is "the gift of dharma [the teachings]" and is considered the most profound. Although no one can eliminate our ignorance but ourselves, nevertheless, through example and through teachings, we can inspire and support one another.
The inconceivable wish to help all sentient beings always begins with oneself. Our own experience is the only thing we have to share.
This is a time of year when there are many demands on our generosity. Of course, there is great pleasure in giving material gifts. But let's also think about giving fearlessness and finding opportunities to pass on the wisdom we have received from the meditative tradition.