Published in the Rains County Leader on December 5, 2017:
In 1986 Robert Fulghum published a book titled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Over the last thirty years, it has become a standard of common sense wisdom, and the basic ideas of this simple credo can often be seen on plaques, coffee cups, and other gift items. The first item on the list is always “Share everything.”
I’ve been thinking about sharing a lot the last couple of weeks, and for good reason. It seems like every time I turn around, I run into an opportunity to share, sometimes on the giving end and sometimes on the receiving end.
During this season of giving, there are lots of chances to share what we have with those less fortunate than ourselves. We recently completed the Operation Christmas Child event with our AWANA children at church. We taught them about sharing by collecting toys, clothes, school supplies, and toiletries and then packing them in boxes to be distributed by the Samaritans Purse organization. Later this month, we will reinforce the lesson by baking cookies to be shared at the Senior Suite Care and Rehab Facility. December is also the time for toy runs, angel trees, red kettles, and lots of other ways to share the love.
On the other hand, when it comes to being on the receiving end, I seem to be experiencing more than my share of receiving. When we went to Louisiana for Thanksgiving, David’s sister asked if we needed a set of dishes. Well, we have already had three sets of dishes, but after six years of Mom and Dad setting the table, clearing the table, and loading and unloading the dishwasher, none of them is complete, so I said yes. In addition to our odd collection, we now have twelve complete place settings of Noritake china along with serving pieces. As if that weren’t enough, his other sister asked if we wanted her sofa and love seat when the new furniture she had ordered comes in. Since our living room furniture is beginning to show its age, we said yes to that offer, too.
Now Thanksgiving is past, but the season of generosity has continued. Thursday morning is the time I go see my “mentee” at the school. This past week I wanted to celebrate the much improved report card she had received, so I stopped by Subway to pick up one of her favorite cookies – White Chip Macadamia Nut. Well, at 9:10, they had only been open for ten minutes, and the one employee who was there had not had time to fill the cookie bin. He offered to bake some if I could wait ten minutes. While we waited, I explained why I needed that special cookie.
“Don’t worry,” he said as he took the tray out of the oven. “We’ll get her a cookie.”
He went to the back and put the tray in the freezer for a minute or two so he could take one up without breaking it to pieces. He came back and handed me a bag with the still warm cookie, and I stood there with my money in my hand waiting for him to tell me how much I owed him.
“No, no,” he said. “It’s on the house.”
It was a good morning!
After experiencing all this generosity, I was determined to do some sharing of my own. Sunday afternoon, David announced he was going across the street to visit with our neighbors, and he asked if I wanted to go. I almost said no, because my laptop screen was still blank, and my deadline was getting closer. David suggested that a break might be what I needed to give me some inspiration. It sounded like a good excuse to me. Besides, Connie is in the process of having all her teeth removed, and I wanted to see how she was doing. It was also my chance to share. I had made a Bundt cake the day before, and it was soft enough for sore gums. I cut off half a dozen slices and packed them a plastic container, and we headed out.
Connie and Charles were excited about the cake, and they were excited that we had come for a visit. Charles immediately put on a pot of coffee for him and David to share on the porch, and Connie and I settled down in the living room to chat. She has led an interesting life and has no shortage of stories to tell. She also loves to share plans for the earth-friendly house she wants to build. Even though we both know the likelihood of her project becoming a reality is fading as time passes, her enthusiasm never wanes. Neither does her generosity. She doesn’t have a lot, but she loves to share what she has. I rarely leave her house without a little gift of some kind, and Sunday was no exception. As I prepared to go home and fix dinner, she pointed out a plastic container I had used to bring her some chili early in her dental adventures. It was on top of a box of Rice Krispie Treats.
“Get your container, and take those treats with you. Charles and I can’t eat them.”
I’ve heard it said that you can’t out-give God. Apparently, it’s sometimes hard to out-give your friends and family as well.