The other day, I did a post about giving. You can read it right here, if you'd like. In it, I talked about a lesson I learned (one I thought I knew) about how, when I give a gift (any sort of gift), I have to do it without expectation of any sort of reward. The gift should be -- no, the gift is -- in the giving.
Today, I had lunch with my friend, Loren. Loren is pretty much the best person I know. He rescues animals and people, usually at some ridiculous cost to himself (in money, time, energy, possibility of jail-time, etc). And when you tell him what a nice guy you think he is, he just shrugs it off, head hanging in embarrassment, all aw shucks-like. I love that about him.
I love him.
He has given me more gifts than I can count -- some of the best I've ever received -- and more than I can ever repay. But he doesn't keep score. He can't, otherwise, he'd have stopped giving a long time ago (because he won, that's why). That, or he's expecting a whopper for his next birthday!
Anyway, at lunch, he told me a story that I had to relay. He won't tell it himself because he doesn't want it to appear as thought he's looking for the 'attaboy' pat on the back. He never is. I told him that I wrestle with that, too, but here is what I know for sure: When I read or hear about someone doing something nice for someone, it makes me want to do something nice, too. So I figure that when I tell about something nice I've done, it might make another person want to do something nice for someone else. We're all connected like that.
Back to the story...
First, you should know that Loren's lunch stories often extend into dinner... and the weekend. He's... wordy. (And the fact that I interrupt with snarky comments every other word doesn't help). But he got it out today before our enchiladas were even finished (it was a Christmas miracle!).
Anyhoo... just before Christmas, he was in that big store I won't go to, picking up some last minute things. The lines at the registers were long and he was tired and cranky, ready to just be done. Then he saw a tiny old lady in a tiny old wheelchair, eyeing the candy in the impulse section (also known as the 'Here comes Diane, we'll get her now' section). Because he's helpful and because he's never met a stranger, he asked if he could reach something for her. She lamented that she couldn't find the Mounds candy bar she was looking for. Indeed there were no Mounds in the display, not even next to the Almond Joys (at this point in the story, I broke into the 'Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't' refrain... I told you, I'm obnoxious. I don't know why we're still friends). Loren looked in the display in another aisle for her, but still no Mounds. She explained to him that every Christmas, she gets herself one... because for 50 years, her husband always put one in her stocking.
For 50 years, her husband always put one in her stocking.
Well, that did it.
Loren said his good-byes, left her to check out, and sprinted (as fast as a short man laden with gifts can sprint) to the back of the store and the big candy aisle. He located the Mounds bars, packaged in sleeves, and picked up about $10 worth -- enough Mounds bars to see that sweet old lady to the end of days. Then he sprinted back to the front of the store, plowing a blonde lady down in the process, and got back in line. A long line. A long, slow line. But, as luck would have it, the heroine of our story was sat at the front of the store, waiting for a ride. Finally through the line, Loren made it to her and said,
"A fat man in a red suit said I should give these to you," and handed over the Mounds bars.
I don't know for sure how that little old lady felt, but I can imagine. I'm sure you can, too.
And Loren? He got all choked up when he told me it was the very best part of his holiday. The very best part.
It's in the giving.