Thursday, October 28, 2010

On Gifts

Centre Block, Ottowa

I listen to the Vinyl Cafe podcast. Each show is recorded in a different Canadian City and host Stuart McLean starts by talking about that city in a way that makes me want to move to Canada. He can make a remote airport in the middle of Newfoundland and Labrador sound like the most fascinating place on the planet. That is until you hear him tell about Winnipeg. OK, kidding. Winnipeg really doesn't sound fascinating at all, but Stuart can at least make me appreciate it.

In last week's podcast, Stuart was in Ottawa, Ontario, the capitol of Canada. Stuart told about the Parliament building there in Ottawa. Specifically, the part of the complex called the Centre Block. In 1916 this structure burned to the ground. Somehow, word of this tragedy reached the other side of the world, in New Zealand.

To show their support and concern, the government of New Zealand sent wood to help Canada rebuild. Stuart pointed out that if you've ever been to Canada (and please pronounce that as "bean" to Canada) you probably know that wood is one thing they've got plenty of.

Yet New Zealand sent wood.

And those who received the wood in Ottawa used it to build a beautiful table for 12. I'm only guessing it's beautiful because I have not seen an actual photo of it, but I do know it resides in a place called "The New Zealand Room" in Ottawa's parliamentary library.

I listened to Stuart tell the story of how New Zealand sent Canada wood as I was doing my daily walk for exercise. I don't think there were too many people around to hear me shout, "YES!" as I came to understand the beauty of New Zealand's gesture and Canada's grace at receiving it. For me, it is the epitome of gift giving and receiving.

The gift was not something that was needed. Canada didn't request it. It was a gesture of love, kindness and goodwill, freely given. It sent the message, "We are thinking of you and we want to help you. We want you to be happy." It was a humble gift, but represented a sacrifice nonetheless.

Canada could have used that wood to rebuild part of the structure, relegating it to anonymity. Instead, they featured it in a piece of furniture that stands as a public thank you to New Zealand forever.

It's a lovely story.


Melissa said...

That was a lovely commentary.
Stuart McLean is great to listen to and if you've heard him speak, reading his books is a much richer experience.
I was pleasantly surprised when I read this post.
He's a favorite of mine.
So is your blog. I love your writing.

a said...

You always inspire me to be better than myself. Yesterday I spent the day canning apple juice (arduously slow!), doing laundry, and watching 4 episodes of Supernatural. And all the while you are listening and learning about Canada. All I know is don't go into a haunted building even if it is fake! And solid all day tv gives me a headache! I aspire to you oh great one!
I think your story sounds like a good Christmas Story! It could be an annual read and much better than Twas the Night Before Christmas!

Afton said...

Yep A, that's me. Just listening to podcasts about Canada while you fill your shelves with homemade goodness. I'm special!

I-Shüan Warr said...

I love that story too! I agree that it'd be a great Christmas story!

I think he was just in Seattle recently. We should've gone!