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The Suburbanite
  • STEVE KING: True wealth lies in selflessness

  • Now that it's all said and done and we've rolled over the calendar into a new year, we have to ask: Did you get what you wanted for Christmas?
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  • Now that it's all said and done and we've rolled over the calendar into a new year, we have to ask: Did you get what you wanted for Christmas?
    Not just what you wanted, but what you really wanted?
    Maybe you did, and if so, then good for you.
    But there's probably a greater chance that you didn't. After all, only we know what we really want. We can't count on someone else getting it. Like the old saying goes, "if you want it done right, then do it yourself."
    We all wish we had a big pile of money to go out and get that ideal gift for ourselves. Merry Christmas to us, as it were. By putting on Santa's hat ourselves, we are always certain that it will be perfect.
    One man did come across that kind of loot – and then some – about seven months ago. Tom Crist, 64, of Calgary won a $40 million jackpot in the Western Canada Lottery last May.
    A retired CEO of an electronics company, he said he he didn't need the money because he had done very well in business. He's not taking a penny of the cash – not for himself, at least.
    Instead, he's putting the money in a trust fund. It will be donated to charities, some of which are cancer-related, in honor of his late wife who passed away from cancer 11 months ago when she was just 57.
    He said his wife would be "ecstatic" about the way he's handling his winnings.
    Wow.
    Even if you're wealthy enough to get by without it, it would be difficult – very difficult, in fact – to totally and completely pass on all that money in that way. After all, we're only human.
    Crist has the greater good in mind. Talk about being noble and moral. That guy gets the award.
    What would you do if you won the lottery? How much would you keep? What would you spend the keeper money on? How much would you give away? How much would you spend?
    Those are fascinating – and exciting – questions to consider. We would all love to have the opportunity to answer them. Keep buying those lottery tickets – and rabbits feet.
    But are we better off in the long run for not winning the lottery?
    Studies have shown that many jackpot winners are unable to handle the loot and end up fritting it away, doing little more than tossing the money into the air on a windy day and watching it blow away. They eventually end up right back where they started.
    What a nightmare that would be to let a fortune literally slip through your fingers, to have really helped no one – not yourself, not needy people, not anyone. You would never forgive yourself for that. In fact, it would be better if it had never happened at all.
    Page 2 of 2 - We can deal with having a losing ticket. But none of us can deal with being a loser, which is what you become for becoming a millionaire and then watching it all turn back into a pumpkin.
    But if we did approach our fortune in a manner so that it didn't turn into our misfortune, it would be such a thrill to be able to solve all of our financial issues – paying off all our bills and relieving ourselves of that stress maybe even for life – and at the same time have the opportunity to buy some things for ourselves that we've long wanted and needed.
    Granted, some winners have been heard to say that they won't change much in their lives, that they might even keep working. But what fun would that be, to not enhance our existence – and those close to us – in at least some way?
    And finally, we would feel compelled to take a portion of our winnings and help those less fortunate. You can't turn your back on those people. It's part of the deal of being a newly rich person.
    Who would you help? A local food bank? Cancer research? A nearby hospital? Alcohol and drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation? The Humane Society and other similar organizations to benefit stray animals? Needy people overseas? Your church?
    The list goes on and on and on.
    Since I started writing this, I keep coming back to this one image that, to me at least, would be the best of the best in terms of the good that could be done with this money. Think about walking out the door of your house one morning with your checkbook and a balance that had more zeroes in it that you can really comprehend. You could go from one organization to the next presenting jaw-dropping levels of money to executive directors who are up to their elbows in need without the wherewithal to make much of a dent in it – that is, until you showed up.
    Just imagine the thrill that would give them … and you. It might be something that neither ever experience again. We all want to make a difference in this world. To really, truly be able to do so, not just in one place but in many. The glow would burn in our bellies for as long as we're around to feel it. And you can't put a price – or a value – on that.
    So in that regard, then, it's easy to see why Tom Crist did what he did. He'll now be a rich – and a happy – man, at least as happy as a guy can be after losing his wife way before her time.
    Maybe we couldn't duplicate that type of joy, but it sure would be fun trying.