The best gift of all is the giving of Self

By Dorothy Swart Fleshman December 19, 2011 08:31 pm

Aha!!! I caught a couple leaking my diary to the newspaper again! I should have taken my diary with me, but I thought it was safely hidden away in my computer when I left town for a short time.

It came about this way:

I’m a rather investigative person and that includes looking in rather strange places for gifts.  This one surprised even myself because curiosity led me to see what might be available in our local medics’ fully furnished ambulance manned by competent and handsome young men; thenceforth to the Grande Ronde Hospital where I was also met by a gracious and welcoming committee of beautiful women and more handsome men.

Both places offered immediate availability of their finest, including trying out their beds for comfort and their delicious dining facilities.

However, I like to do comparison shopping, so I caught a helicopter ride to St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise, Idaho, with a crowd of fans seeing me off.

What a ride high above the forested and barren hill areas between our two towns on a beautiful sunny day seated beside the young fearless pilot.

Behind us two other handsome young men supplied my every need of altitude oxygen and noise-reducing earphones.  How nice of them, I thought.

Arriving at St. Luke’s, I was given a fine tour of the facility, my feet hardly touching the ground.  I hadn’t realized just how important I was as an investigative and potential gift-buying customer.

They asked me to stay overnight so that they could show and explain their many wares that are more easily available in a large city, so how could I refuse. My room had all the customary furnishings of nice bed, TV, clean sheets and warm blankets along with a phone menu call-in day and night for gourmet room-service meals. I wished I were more hungry because of the variety of food available, but maybe it was just as well that I didn’t overeat because I discovered their bed was equipped to weigh me without my knowledge. When I found out, they apologized that it was in kilos rather than pounds, but even at that I didn’t think it would make an appropriate Christmas gift.

On the other hand, though...

The other rather negative thing about my stay was that I hadn’t realized that they had so many gift choices that it was necessary to have a progression of folks coming in and out of my room all night in order to display this and that possible gift. I don’t think they sleep down there.

It was all very well done, though, and such nice folks, but it was turning out to be a rather tiring shopping trip. I was eager to return home.

However, they were out to charm me by sending handsome young men, dressed as doctors to set the scene, to come in and hold my hand in appreciation of my visit. They even invited me to come inspect their part of the hospital, so I accepted their invitation and extended my stay by another day or so in order to accommodate them. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings by refusing.

It turned out to be a rather rewarding trip in that my popularity even down there meant that they wanted me to stay in touch with them. Oh, sometimes my fame is hard to believe. Anyway, they sent me home with an interesting gadget by which I can communicate with them for a full month in case I want to buy something further. Isn’t that thoughtful?

In spite of my every need being met at my beck and call, there were so many things to buy as gifts and my charge account was running up, so I decided it was time to come home, but thought I should inspect our auto industry and their chauffeurs on the way. What a nice surprise to have a beautiful limousine at my disposal and a lovely and capable young lady at the wheel to deliver me safely on dry paved roads to my door, an extra bonus.

An excited welcoming committee has been on hand since, seemingly happy to have me back, even to the point of in-home meal delivery and car service. I was feeling quite contented and loved, but that was when I learned that this couple had leaked #112 to paper and air waves while I was away.

In a way, it turned out to be a blessing, for, because of them, I met my weekly deadline. However, because of my hasty departure to go shopping, I did miss some of my appointments in town for which I must apologize. But, because of all the other folks along my way I was able to come up with the best Gift of all, only it turned out that I was to be the Receiver rather than the Giver, something very difficult for me to do.

As Christmas nears, I know that the best Gift of all is that of the giving of Self.

It has always been hard for me not to try returning gift for gift in appreciation, but this time I realize that there is no way I can do this for all of the kindnesses shown me on this trip from the start of the ambulance inspection to after the arrival back home.

It comes as somewhat of a surprise to learn that as a Receiver you aren’t expected to pay it back other than a heart-felt simple “Thank you.” Your responsibility, then, is to pass on the Gift whenever you see someone in need. They, too, must then do the same. It sets up a world of Givers and Receivers who pass it on, looking out for each other, something we so desperately need.

This Christmas as we buy and wrap and tag our Gifts, let us remember those more freely given by word, by visit, by phone, by mail. Just a kind word or helping hand is worth more than all that money can buy.

In order to be a Giver, there has to be a Receiver. Otherwise, of course, there could be no Gift. We must be open to being both at sometime in our lives no matter how hard it is to receive.

I know!

Thank you, everyone! And, Merry Christmas!

Veteran newspaperwoman Dorothy Swart Fleshman is a

La Grande native.