From the Chief’s Corner: The Gift...

Chief Alan Perdue

Posted on December 20, 2019

During this time of year there’s a lot of hustle and bustle around year-end activities, such as strategic planning, financial reports, sales quotas, social events, traditions and, most importantly, time off for the Christmas Holidays.  As a part of the Christmas season, many will have a keen focus on a unique gift for that someone special in their life.  So, what is a gift? Well, according to Webster’s, it is “something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation.”

Like you, I’ve noticed an increase in traffic around shopping centers, delivery vehicles bustling around town and longer lines in retail establishments as a result of gifts. People everywhere are spending countless hours trying to figure out what to put under that Christmas tree. I don’t know about you but trying to figure out what to purchase for the person that has just about everything anyone could possibly want or need can be extremely stressful.

Have you ever thought about the origin of gift giving? In Ancient Rome, the giving of gifts was popular during a winter solstice celebration known as Saturnalia. Research shows that the first gifts given at Christmas were from the Wise Men to Baby Jesus. Some say the tradition that we know today involving Santa Claus came from St. Nicholas, a bishop who would give presents to children while wearing his long flowing red and white robes. The inspiration for the modern-day Santa costume. 

So, here’s the question, how do gifts relate to the SBC…? Well, to start with we must look at the rest of the definition of a gift, per Webster’s: “a notable capacity, talent or endowment.”

I began to think about this last week while visiting the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.  A truly impactful moment in one’s life when you stand there and realize the impact of that day 78 years ago and the subsequent actions that changed our world.  Each and every service member involved in that conflict was dedicated to an important cause.  Each of them was truly a gift, a gift from God who used their notable capacity, talent and endowment to make a difference. 

I’m sure at the time of the attack that there was doubt in the minds of many as to what the future would hold. Would they survive? If so, what would life be like? What would America be like?  I thought about what Winston Churchill said in his first speech as the British Prime Minister in May of 1940. “You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all cost. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory however long and hard the road may be. For without victory there is no survival.”

Now, what is our aim here at the SBC? It’s about making buildings safer, it’s about protecting the public and public safety responders, and it’s about feeling safe inside. How do we do that? Part of the answer is that we do it through gifts.   

What is our aim here at the SBC? It’s about making buildings safer, it’s about protecting the public and public safety responders, and it’s about feeling safe inside. How do we do that? Part of the answer is that we do it through gifts.

The gifts each of our member organizations bring to the table, the gifts that we receive through the dedicated involvement of each individual that serves on our board, a workgroup or who shares an important piece of information to make buildings safer. Pablo Picasso once said “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” we are truly thankful that you choose to bless us with your gifts; gifts that truly make a difference on our road to victory. 

During this Christmas season, I want to ask you to write the number 86,400 down and keep it where you can see it. No, it’s not how much you need to spend on presents, it’s the number of seconds in a day. It’s a reminder from this old chief, who spent many holidays on duty during his career, that as the seconds of life tick away, one of the most important things you can do is to take time away from the hustle and bustle of the season to spend with your family and friends. Remember, they are the true gifts in our lives. I hope each of you and your families have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I think Dr. Seuss said it best in his book How the Grinch Stole Christmas. “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. “Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”