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Posts Tagged ‘giving’

Have you or anyone you know lived through a natural disaster? The closest I came was the “once in a hundred year flood” that happened right after we moved into our mid-century modern ranch on a tributary of the Shrewsbury River in NJ.

Except that we luckily had flood insurance, friends who took care of our kids until we were able to fly back from a medical conference, and only lost a car and an HVAC system. The Corgis were stashed in the laundry room, which was thankfully above the water line. We had the resources to recover, and we were lucky.

But last week Bob spoke with the Bride and Groom as a tornado swept through Nashville. They had bundled up the kids and the dog and were hunkering down in their basement. Bob can plug into aviation weather tracking and see the path of the storm on his laptop. It was right above downtown Nashville. As sirens blared, my daughter led her family through a pretty complete soundtrack of the Love Bug’s life.

And when it was all over, I saw the pictures of the devastation that same storm system delivered to a small, little known part of the world. It’s a landscape with majestic magnolia trees and more historic, antebellum homes per square acre than any other place in the Deep South. Holly Springs, MS is where my sister-in-law grew up and where my brother Mike died. And it was the epicenter for that tornado.

Now I never ask you for anything. Week after week I say my peace about family, or politics, or “whatever is on my mind” as Bob likes to say. But that tornado wiped out the girlhood home, a farm belonging to a friend of my brother’s family in Holly Springs. Shelby is a beautiful soul. She was so close to my family at Walter Place, that she helped care for my brother when he became seriously ill. When I first met her, I thought she was an angel in disguise. She wants to become a nurse, and is currently working as a vet tech. Her parents are the salt of the earth, who were left homeless the day before Christmas Eve.

So if you feel so inclined to give a little something to those in need before January First, a friend of Shelby’s family has started a Go Fund Me account, “Kivelle Family Tornado Relief Fund” https://www.gofundme.com/u3g6xfw4

Her parents didn’t have any luck in the face of that tornado. Their MS farm was erased from the earth. But her Dad was a Union worker, as many small farmers need to have two jobs, and his Union buddies have started this fund to help them rebuild and recover. I like to know where my money goes for a good cause, and this one is about as good as it gets.

I love you Shelby, and thank God your family members are safe.   947035_10208598182494010_6736234418063270556_n

 

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I’ve been thinking about giving. While driving through the Great Smokies, past cows and barns and more cows and barns on my way back to VA, I listened to This American Life podcast #514 “It’s the Thought That Counts.” http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/514/thought-that-counts But don’t we learn how to give by what we’ve received over the years?

When I was young, Christmas meant a special doll, one that talked or maybe wet itself. And as I grew older, a slip (remember those?) would invariably arrive in the mail from an elderly aunt in Washington. My foster Daddy Jim would always say he didn’t want anything for Christmas, that he had everything he needed in our little house in Victory Gardens. But Nell would make sure I gave him a pair of slippers and a can of Prince Albert pipe tobacco.

Every day when he came home from work, Jim would have a present for me. Sometimes it was a tiny flower in his pocket, or maybe a piece of candy, but can you imagine, every. single. day! That was a hard act to follow for future suitors.

Some people can think only of themselves. We know these gifts, we open them trepidatiously. “What a beautiful book about art that you are interested in Uncle Sam.” Some people are pragmatic, like my aunt and her slip. “I really needed more socks and pajamas Aunt Helen.” Some people like to boast with their gifts, like the time my step father gave the Flapper a mink coat, “I’m speechless, how thoughtful.” But some people have a knack for gift-giving, like my niece Lisa.

She remembered something I had said in passing that must have resonated with her. Over the years I’ve made only a few close friends with each move. I’m not saying this is a good thing, in fact next year I should work on my friendship skills definitely. My motto has been it’s important to have a friend who knows where the spoons are in your kitchen.

And so Lisa sent me a gigantic spoon to hang in my kitchen! I smile each time I look at it.

In the past, I had searched endlessly for gifts that were actually made here in the US to send to Irish relatives, an almost impossible task. Something might be designed here, but chances are it was manufactured in Bangladesh. So like many, this season of endless giving has turned for me into some distorted, commercialized cartoon holiday. I avoid malls like the plague.

We Americans have so much in the grand scheme of things. I love it when the whole Secret Santa bit is employed to contain costs. Bob’s friend in Richmond passed out some papers to his relatives – only gifts for kids this year, which was always our style – the paper was to make a donation in the family’s name to the local food bank. Great idea Al!

So if you are planning on re-gifting or returning that salad bowl that doesn’t go with anything, take a minute to think about the thought that went into your gift as you trudge back to Target hoping that your credit and pin information is still safely tucked into their hardware. Are they telling you to eat healthy, or sending you a message to stop bringing them pie?

As the Stones famously said, you can’t always get what you want. As for me, I can’t wait till the Love Bug is old enough for a trip to NYC and the great American Girl Doll pilgrimage.  IMG_2349

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