Mielke: It is better to give than receive

It is better to give than to receive!

That’s the rule, or at least one of the rules that we are supposed to follow when we are a player in the big game of life.

I know it. Everybody knows it, but still, sometimes, I don’t want to follow it.

In fact I harbour secret thoughts of being selfish, really, really self-centered, like my two-year-old grandson who is convinced the world revolves around his adorable little self. Sometimes I, too, want it to be all about me.

I was thinking that very thing the other day, knowing full well that right in the middle of my self-righteousness self-centered ruminating, it is the season.

It is the season to be cheerful. It is the season to be generous. It is the season of goodwill, forgiveness, and getting together and drinking cups filled with good cheer, and eating too many chocolates, and believing in magic.

It all seems kind of tiring, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I was on my way to the gym the other day to do what people do at the gym so they can finally leave and eat something unhealthy like a chocolate-covered doughnut, which, of course, defeats the purpose, when my cellphone rang.

It was my sister.

My sister is an idealist who delighted into turning her home into Christmas card perfection every year. It was like every ounce of her creativity came alive at Christmas.

Well, sadly a few years ago, she and her husband, due to health issues, gave up the home they had lived, loved, laughed and cried in for many years and moved into a condo. Condos are small, efficient spaces that lots of people move into for that very reason.

Of course, moving from a home where one has lived forever and a day into a condo means getting rid of lots of stuff.

So that’s what she had to do.

And because she is my sister and I imagined how I would feel if I had to move to a place where there wasn’t room for all the useless stuff I have accumulated over the years, I decided to make her a Christmas gift that was small, practical and yet sentimental.

My gift was a plaque inscribed with quotes from each of her children about what Christmas had meant to them, growing up in a home made magical at Christmas time, by their own sweet and gentle mother.

With help from smarter people than me, I made it quite fancy and shiny and decoupaged it, so it would last forever. I envisioned her putting it on her wall in her new home at Christmastime, and I hoped the words written by her children would comfort her, and even conjure up some happy memories.

When I made the gift for her, I had no way of knowing her youngest daughter would not live to see another Christmas.

No one knew.

She phoned me today to tell me how much that gift meant to her, especially now, this Christmas.

She phoned to say ‘thanks.’

I must admit the road was a little blurry as I hung up the phone and drove off to work, and it wasn’t even foggy.

It is better to give than to receive.

And, today I learned, it’s even better not to question why that rule always seems to hold true.

Treena Mielke lives in Sylvan Lake and is editor of the Rimbey Review. She has been a journalist and columnist for more than 25 years. Treena is married to Peter and they have three children and six grandchildren.

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