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26 November 2012

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Carpenter's Gift

The Carpenter's Gift: A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree 
Today's guest post is with author David Rubel, the author of The Carpenter's Gift: A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (published by Random House Books).  He's posting today about his experience with Habitat, and giving and receiving (and it's really very touching!)  Thank you so much to David for guest posting today!  I hope you enjoy (and read farther as there IS a giveaway and the links to all the other blog tour participants!)

I know a little bit about the 2010 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree because I have a small piece of it here in my office. Like most Rockefeller Center trees, it stood about seventy-five feet tall and weighed twelve tons. It was harvested in Mahopac, New York, not far from my home in the Hudson Valley, where the story of The Carpenter’s Gift is set. Like every other Rockefeller Center tree since 2007, it was donated by Tishman Speyer, the owners of Rockefeller Center, to Habitat for Humanity.

The lumber milled from these trees has been used by Habitat to build homes with families in need. The wood from the 2007 tree was used to frame living room walls for a home in Katrina-ravaged Mississippi. With the 2008 tree, volunteers built shelving for a condominium complex in Brooklyn. The 2009 tree, harvested in Connecticut, went to the construction of an apartment building in Stamford. The 2010 tree (except for my small piece) became a porch in Newburgh, New York, just across the Hudson River from Mahopac.

Obviously, it would have been cheaper and easier for Tishman Speyer simply to have written checks that the Habitat affiliates could have used to purchase the two-by-fours they needed. But the wood really isn’t the point, is it? The point is the thought, which counts, and the action. which matters. The most important thing about the Tishman Speyer gift, I think, is the way it reminds us, amid all our great affluence, that there are still many in this country and in the world who do not share in the general prosperity.

The Habitat affiliate in Newburgh gave me my piece of the 2010 tree when I spoke at a fundraiser there last Christmas. We arranged the event after I spent a hot day in July building in Newburgh with a group of volunteers from Random House, the publisher of The Carpenter’s Gift. We worked on the house that received the Christmas tree wood. A week later, the folks in Newburgh got some additional out-of-town help when a group from Tishman Speyer arrived to continue the work we had begun.

Most charitable giving nowadays is very compartmentalized. Donors write checks to nonprofits, which in turn provide services to those in need. Rarely do the givers and receivers meet. But that isn’t the Habitat system, in which giving and receiving are viewed as two sides of the same coin. Separating them just doesn’t make any sense.

When I look at my small piece of the 2010 Christmas tree, I see the faces of the Habitat partner families with whom I’ve worked over the years. As you can imagine, they’ve certainly gotten something important from the experience—a simple, decent home in which to live. But I’ve gotten something important, too: a deeper connection to the world in which I live.

My Habitat friend Sherwood Kirk can be quite eloquent on this subject. A retired high school administrator from rural Kentucky, Sherwood has volunteered with Habitat affiliates all over the planet, from South Africa to South Korea to Northern Ireland, but the story is always the same. “All the partner families tell me, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming to build our home,’” Sherwood says. “But what I always tell them is, ‘Thanks for letting me do it.’ I just want to thank them for letting me come to build their home. I mean, they’re letting me build their home, and I’m getting so much more out of it than they are.”

Among Habiholics like Sherwood, it’s an article of faith that, no matter how much you give, you always get more back. And that’s one of the most interesting things about giving and receiving. When it’s working right, you’re never quite sure which end of the transaction you’re on.

And now for the giveaway!  You can win your very own copy of The Carpenter's Gift courtesy of Random House Books (but only if you are 13 years old or older)!  The giveaway will run until Friday, when I will use a random number generator to pick a winner from the comments below!  All you have to do is leave a comment with your name and email address (I'll contact you for your address, give it to the nice people at Random House, and they'll ship your book to you!).  If you'd like to tweet about the giveaway, follow via GFC or email, I'll give you an extra entry each time (just include @maestra_amanda and @randomhouse so I can see the tweets!)

Here are the other blogs on the tour.  Go check them out (I'm in good company)!
Wednesday, November 21st, 2012:
Thursday, November 22nd, 2012:
Friday, November 23rd, 2012: The Book Maven’s Haven
Saturday, November 24th, 2012:
Sunday, November 25th, 2012: {Eat the Book}
Monday, November 26th, 2012: Maestra Amanda’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, November 27th, 2012:
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012
·         Nerdy Book Club
·         Watch. Connect. Read
       ·         SharpRead

1 comment:

  1. Our elementary library learners love the holiday books.


Gold stars given to good comments.