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News / Clark County News

Press Talk: Why we’d rather give than get

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor
Published: December 24, 2016, 6:10am

It’s almost here, right?

The big day when the big guy pushes his way into your home and delivers the goods.

Many of us will be sitting around a Christmas tree wondering what we ended up with. But the truth is, more of us will be wondering how the gifts we have given will be received.

Looking for something material to be added to our bounty really isn’t the Christmas spirit. Rather, we would enjoy basking in the glow of others we have made happy.

We asked a simple question a few days ago on our unscientific web poll. Would you rather give or receive? And the vast majority of you said “give.”

I also wrote an earlier column asking folks to take the time to just smile or say thank you or have a conversation with someone they didn’t know.

These are ways of giving that cost us very little but in some small way brighten the days of others. And Vancouver resident Sue Clancy took me up on it.

She told me a story about her and her friend J.L. at a grocery store. They were buying their paper towels and beans and noticed the couple behind them with wine, cooked chickens and pie.

“So I turned to J.L. and said in a voice loud enough for them to hear ‘Let’s go to their house for dinner; it looks good!’

“J.L. looked at their selections and replied ‘Yes! Let’s!’ Then she leaned over to the couple and said, while patting our paper towels, ‘We’ll bring the fancy linen napkins.’ 

“Then we grinned at them — and the couple laughed and laughed! We continued through the line having the nicest conversation about food and holiday parties!” 

So what did Sue and J.L. give? Nothing more than a moment of friendship. Reaching out like this won’t change the world … unless everyone reached out like this.

Giving the gift of conversation really can be priceless.

But what about receiving in a slightly different kind of way? What if we didn’t ask for material things?

Check this out.

A meme has been circulating on Facebook that apparently originated with a country radio DJ. This DJ recounted a story about the time he told his children what he wanted for Christmas.

“My children each year ask me the same question. After thinking about it, I decided I’d give them my real answer:

“What do I want for Christmas? I want you. I want you to keep coming around, I want you to bring your kids around, I want you to ask me questions, ask my advice, tell me your problems, ask for my opinion, ask for my help. I want you to come over and rant about your problems, rant about life, whatever.

“I spent the better part of my life raising you the best way I knew how, and I’m not bragging, but I did a pretty darn good job. Now, give me time to sit back and admire my work; I’m pretty proud of it.

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“I want you to spend your money making a better life for you and your family; I have the things I need. I want to see you happy and healthy.

“When you ask me what I want for Christmas, I say ‘nothing’ because you’ve already been giving me my gift all year. I want you.”

How powerful is that?

Or how about a group of carolers who went to the home of a neighbor of Nancy Baker’s; the neighbor’s shed had just burned down. Later, Baker would say it “meant the world” to her.

I thought about all of this because we’ll be in Florida for Christmas so our daughter will be able to visit. She and her new husband will drive across the state from Miami to spend a few days with us. Could a parent ask for any better gift? Well, OK, 85 and sunny would be nice, as well.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Columbian Editor