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The gift of sharing

January 03, 2004

CINDY TRANE CHRISTESON

"Receiving is often harder than giving. Giving is very important:

giving insight, giving hope, giving courage, giving advice, giving

support, giving money, and most of all, giving ourselves. Without

giving there is no brotherhood and sisterhood. But receiving is just

as important, because by receiving we reveal to the givers that they

have gifts to offer. When we say, 'Thank you, you gave me hope; thank

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you, you gave me a reason to live; thank you, you allowed me to

realize my dream,' we make givers aware of their unique and precious

gifts. Sometimes it is only in the eyes of the receivers that givers

discover their gifts."

-- HENRI NOUWEN, "BREAD

FOR THE JOURNEY"

We're off and running into January 2004. It's a new year, a new

beginning, a time of fresh starts and possibly some changes. We've

come through a season of celebration, as well as gift-giving and

receiving. I loved giving gifts and I loved receiving them, but today

I want to focus on the gifts that bring hope and support to others.

In December, I was invited to a luncheon for the columnists at the

Daily Pilot. Our editor, Tony Dodero, wanted to personally thank us

for our contribution to the newspaper. I really appreciated his

encouraging words, personal affirmations and contagious smile.

Obviously, everybody had plenty to do during such a busy season, but

it was a wonderful respite with great people and delicious food.

It was a pleasure to meet the columnists, cartoonists, editors and

others I enjoy reading, some of whom I only knew by their pictures. I

also met my new editor, Mike Swanson, and look forward to working

with him.

When our oldest daughter Kelly was young, she once said, "I wish I

had a story about my life." She explained that she'd heard teachers

tell stories about their lives, and she'd read about many exciting

lives, and she wanted one too.

"Everybody has a story, sweetheart," I said. "Yours is already

pretty incredible, and you are one amazing little girl."

I thought about that comment from years past after I left our

lunch. I realized I would have loved the opportunity to sit next to

everybody at that table, because everybody there had a story of their

own. I was sorry that some people were unable to attend. In the short

time we had together we covered topics such as schools, sports and

surfing. Some of us also discussed church, children and cooking. I

enjoyed hearing about the families and interests of those I had a

chance to speak with, and I wish I'd had the opportunity to talk with

everyone present.

We also shared a lot of chips and guacamole, and as tasty as lunch

was, I savored the time we had to talk. It was a wonderful gift that

I almost missed. I prayed about going and felt that God would want me

to focus more on people than on presents and projects.

It was refreshing to stop and spend time with old and new friends.

I also appreciated being thanked in such an enjoyable way.

As we put away presents we received and live in this new month and

year, let's think of ways to give thanks and hope to others.

And you can quote me on that.

* CINDY TRANE CHRISTESON is a Newport Beach resident who speaks

frequently to parenting groups. She may be reached via e-mail at

cindy@onthegrow.com or through the mail at 537 Newport Center Drive,

Suite 505, Newport Beach, CA 92660.

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