by Angus MacCaull

They sat on a wooden shelf: an RCMP officer, a park ranger, and a cowboy with a wide brimmed hat. “Which do you like?” my grandfather asked. Then he reached up for the teddy bear I would name “Cowboy Bob” and keep on my own shelf for years.

Another memory from a crisp Cape Breton night. My grandfather came in from the cold with cheeseburgers. I unwrapped the crinkly takeaway foil and bit into a warm bun dressed with ketchup, mustard, and pickle relish.

When I think of my grandfather, Andrew Alcorn Munro, images of giving are what I remember first. And not just teddy bears or cheeseburgers. He gave his time and attention to people. He sat with a soft smile and listened. You felt that he was present. That he cared.

It’s no secret that we live in an accelerated age. The pressures of social media and the 24 hour news cycle can make the days feel frantic. And when someone asks us to do something new or different—or simply to hear them out—it can be difficult to respond with a generous spirit. The world wants so much already. Do we have enough to give?

But my hope is that my grandfather can serve as an example for us at the insurance company that carries his name. On the cusp of our company’s 75th anniversary, I hope we can approach our communities and each other with growing generosity. Despite the demands we feel and our own desire to get ahead, I hope we can remember that giving is one of life’s joys.

We feel connected to others when we give. We feel that we have a purpose. And, as it did for my grandfather, giving can help us smile.