January 24, 2013

The early colonists (1607) fought against disease, starvation, the cold of winter and often the hostile Indians. When it became apparent that having everyone contribute what they could produce to a common storehouse was not generating adequate food, Governor William Bradford gave each man a plot of ground which he was free to till as he saw fit. He could keep for his own use whatever he produced after he paid his share of the expenses of running the colony.

Although the colonists were not required to give up any surplus they had, they took pride in producing all they could and setting some aside for visitors, friends, relatives and even strangers.

Status in the community was not measured by what a man accumulated, but by what he was able and willing to share with others. One practice that grew out of the desire to be voluntarily generous was traditional among bakers. They proudly delivered a little more than customers asked for or expected in biscuits, cookies, shortcakes and other delicacies. When the baker’s boy delivered the package, the colonists often discovered not only the 12 they had ordered but one extra–a baker’s dozen as we know it today.

There developed from this pioneering practice a sense of personal pride in one’s ability to share with others. The sharing code was carried down through colonial times.

If you want to improve your personal status in today’s world, why not deliver a baker’s dozen to someone in your own way? It might just be as simple as a friendly smile delivered when it’s not required or expected.