Friday, October 8, 2010

29 Gifts and the Kindness of Strangers

This week, I was the recipient of a gift. Quite a special one, actually. From a stranger.

We have a wedding to go to next Saturday, you see. The adorable one is invited as well. And well, she didn't have a dress.

Okay, so she has dresses - a couple corduroy jumpers for fall, and a couple really pretty holiday dresses that I got on clearance last winter, which it's a tad early to wear. But nothing for a wedding. And since that's the sort of dress that probably would never see another wearing, I hated to spend the money.

But, being her Mom, and seeing as we really wanted to bring her (this is a girl that loves a party), I bit the bullet, and started looking. I even asked for some input on a message board I frequent to see if I could come up with some inexpensive options.

And out of the blue, a woman, another mother, on the message board offered me the loan of a lovely dress her daughter had worn last winter. Just because my daughter needed a dress. You hear about the kindness of strangers all the time on the news, but this was one of those things that I never expected.

Along with the dress, she included the loan of a book, and a very nice handwritten note in a card. The book is called 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by a woman named Cami Walker - suffers from MS. Had her life turned upside down by illness and pain. The premise of the book is that giving comes from a place of abundance, and that sharing what you have in a deliberate manner can change your life.

I was, of course, one of the gifts in my benefactor's 29 days of gifts.

So I opened it and started reading. "Oh heavens", I thought. "Feel good drivel."
But then I couldn't put it down. I read it through to the end in 3 days. And I was caught. As much by the generosity of the woman who had sent me the book as the book itself. I'm not a big fan of these sorts of things. But the 29 Gifts movement is something different.

Today was day 1. I gave a baby gift to my friend Kath, who just had a baby, her 3rd daughter. And I gave another gift too - my town hosts the oldest agricultural fair in the country, and the fairgrounds is about a 1/2 mile walk from my house. Traffic is absolutely horrific for the 10 days of the year the fair is going on - it can take hours to go a mile or two. So Sander and I offered, like we do every year to friends and family, our driveway as a parking spot - saving the traffic and the parking fee. I also offered the same to some colleagues. And tonight one of my colleagues took me up on it, and brought his family to my driveway. It was a small gift, but what matters is not the size or the dollar value. It made me feel good to do, he and his family are wonderful people.

Tomorrow we host a cookout, delayed since August. I guess gathering and feeding people we love and care for is a gift of sorts, but there may be another opportunity for giving as well. And I have something special in mind for Sunday.

If you get a chance, read the book. It's worth it.

And I'll keep you posted on my giving, which already seems to be giving back. Because I feel pretty darn good.

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