When I turned thirteen, Mom was happy but we were out of money. We had been out for quite a while. We looked in all the hidden places. We looked under the cushions and under the rugs. We shook out the piggy bank and checked under the seats in the car. We had just enough. Mom was in ‘adventure’ mode and life was good! My sister and I piled into the car with her and we rode down to the corner store. We had enough gas to get there, they had ice cream cones, and I was holding just enough to get them!
I walked over to the ice cream counter with my big sweaty double-handful of coins. I plopped them down on the counter. It was mostly pennies, maybe a couple of nickels and a dime. Mom cleared her throat, “We would like three single scoop ice cream cones, please. We’re celebrating my daughter’s thirteenth birthday today!”
I don’t know the name of the lady behind the counter. I wish I did. If I could choose one stranger from my childhood to know, to thank, to take to lunch I would choose that smiling lady behind the ice cream counter. I’ll have to call her Jane. Jane looked at us. She looked at our money, our clothes, and our eager faces. She hesitated, and then smiled. “Oh boy, thirteen”, she said “Happy Birthday! But single scoops just won’t do…. Make them doubles on me!”
Tears welled up in my eyes and fireworks went off in my brain. Jane LIKED me! I don’t remember what Mom and my sister got, but I got mint chocolate chip and peppermint stick. It sounds funny, but that was the best birthday present I’ve ever received. Jane’s gift was more than ice cream, it was inspiration. I instinctively knew that Jane’s gift came directly from God. Before I had finished my green and pink double, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: Generous.
I love to be Generous. I love to give in sneaky, secret ways. I love to give to people who need it. I love to give to kids. I hope someday I’ll give a gift like Jane gave me; a gift that makes a difference. I realize that when it happens I probably won’t know it. That’s a lesson Jane taught me. Thanks to Jane, I give without reservation and I give without apology. And I never, ever worry that my gift is too small.