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Nicole Phillips, Published June 15 2012

Phillips: Giving trumps getting

At a certain age, women tend to begin complaining about birthdays. They aren’t exactly welcomed holidays like they were when we were 5- or 6-year-olds.

I have to tell you, I celebrated my 37th birthday a few weeks ago, and it was the best birthday I think I’ve ever had. I got the best gift ever.

I woke up that morning to breakfast in bed. My 8-year-old daughter had made me my favorite – a banana and a protein bar, both cut up in little tiny pieces and arranged gorgeously on a paper plate.

My husband took me to the mall, which if you know my husband’s distaste for shopping, is a gift in itself.

I had lunch with my beautiful girlfriend who is battling cancer and still found the energy to remember my birthday.

But the best gift of all came after that. I was in The Forum building writing my May 12 kindness column about the woman from Wimbledon, N.D., who played Secret Santa to a widow in her town.

I was so touched by that idea because a woman on my block had just lost her husband, and I wasn’t quite sure how to show my support. I thought it would be neat to collect gifts from people in our neighborhood to give to this woman, just as a reminder that we were thinking of her.

I emailed some of my neighbors who jumped into action. Within a week, we had a huge basket of beautifully wrapped gifts that our neighbor could open every time she was feeling alone.

I got such joy out of being able to share an idea that would bring joy to someone else. The act of being kind gave me a gift I couldn’t have purchased for any amount of money.

I’d like to say I invented the concept of “Birthday Giving,” but I was beaten to the punch by a woman who clearly has this kindness thing down to a science. This letter was sent to me by Kristine Gregersen.

“Hello, I am writing to you about my mother, Dianna Dunn. She is the kindest and most selfless person I know. You were asking about random acts of kindness, and I think this definitely qualifies.

I’m not sure which birthday of hers it was, but I had sent her flowers and ordered cheesecake, which is her absolute favorite. I sent them to her at work. Instead of taking the cheesecake home, she shared it with all of her co-workers so there was nothing left to bring home.

The flowers did leave the building, but on her way home, my mother passed a nursing home, so she decided to stop there and bring the flowers, too. She spoke with one of the nurses on staff and asked her to give the flowers to a lonely resident who didn’t have any visitors.

When my mom called to thank me for her gifts, she proceeded to tell me about her “giving birthday.” That is the kind of woman she has always been and continues to be.”

Thanks for your story, Kristine. They say it’s better to give than to receive. I happen to agree. I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think!

Share your random acts of kindness stories with me at nphillips15@hotmail.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo, and currently the Executive Director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.