The above image is of the painting "Charity" by sixteenth century artist, Cecchino Del Salviati. It hangs in the Uffizi in Florence, a place I hope to get to one day. In the meantime, I can gaze at it whenever I want, and think about the real meaning of charity.
To be charitable is to give of yourself without any expectation of reciprocity. You do it from the heart, even if it might not be the smartest move you've ever made. You do it out of sincerity and the true spirit of goodwill. Charity is never accompanied by empty platitudes, and it does not always involve money. Those who are truly charitable understand that a smile, a nod, or a knowing look count as charitable acts. Even if the recipient of a charitable act is lacking in gratitude, or the decency to at least say "thank you", you can feel good about yourself knowing that you did the right thing. The Jewish people call acts of charity "mitzvahs". When you perform a mitzvah, you know it. That's the most important part.
All the kidding about food, shopping, presents and assorted other "asshattery" aside, we need to remember to always be charitable. That's the real reason for the season.