Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Prettier Picture

Yesterday's post was created from actual incidents that had occurred within the previous 24 hours of it being authored. It doesn't paint a pretty picture of my children. In order to balance the negativity with some "all is not lost" fodder, I present today's post.

As a service project this Christmas, the kindergarten classes at school decided to bring in various toys, personal care items, gloves, hats, etc. for another elementary school. This other school has 370 students in grades K-3 who are, for the most part, well-below the poverty level. Each year, the teachers stock their staff room with these items and allow each child to pick out a few things for Christmas. My heart is especially soft for children who might go without during a season when no child should.

I had earmarked some funds to go to this cause. Last week, I was excited to find sweatshirts and long-sleeved t-shirts on sale at WalMart for less than $3.00. I also added in some gloves, hats and activity books. I was feeling pretty good about the purchases and marked it off my Christmas "to-do" list.

Over the weekend, the kids decided to check their personal money envelopes we use to hold birthday money, gift cards, etc. We also found an envelope containing the money they raised this summer at a yard sale. They had cleaned out their toys and with my help, had baked cookies and brownies. All in all, they managed to raise $35.25. Originally, the kids had wanted to use the money for personal gain. We had not had an opportunity to do so, therefore the envelope had remained in the drawer.

It was Sadie who first proposed the idea of using the money to purchase gifts for another child. Quickly, they all agreed. They also wanted to use additional money from their personal stash as well and so I allowed them to pick a certain amount to do so. We ventured to the Dollar Tree to make our selections. Sadie had already made her list of what she wanted to buy. I love that store because you can really stretch your money.

The kids didn't ask once to purchase something for themselves. Excitedly, they picked out toothbrushes, gloves, hats, puzzles, scarves, crayons, activity books, lip balm, books, etc. We stayed away from items that might only be used one time and then discarded. I also navigated them away from the plastic junk that might break just by opening the packaging. The kids were thrilled and my heart was warmed seeing them understand the true meaning of Christmas: Giving and sacrificing for others as Christ gave to us.

When we got home, Lily curled up next to me on my bed for a little snuggle. I told her she would need to take in the large bag of donations to class the next day. Then she told me, "Today, Mommy, I gave my Stitch animal." "What?" I asked. The reality began to sink in as I remembered seeing her bring down 4 of her stuffed animal downstairs that morning. I made her haul them back up because she didn't need to take them to school where I thought she just wanted to play with them. Evidently, she still snuck the Stitch one, the one she had just picked out as her special toy from Disney just a few weeks prior, into her bag. I didn't know that her intention was to donate it. She truly gave from her heart.

I need to remember that when I believe my children are completely self-absorbed beings who are only interested in satisfying their own self-interests, there is a bit of selflessness being nurtured in there. Now, I let out a much more contented...Sigh.

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