Thursday, December 3, 2009

A precious gift

This week, I'd learned through someone at my church that an area food pantry was trying to collect 1,000 shoeboxes of gifts for the children served by the pantry. The directions were simple: pack a gently loved stuffed animal, a gently used book, a few candies and an orange. But for the children who'd receive them at Christmas, they would be a welcomed reminder that they were loved, regardless of the circumstances their family was in.

I thought this project was the perfect way to reinforce to my daughter the idea of gift-giving -- and, selfishly, I admit, to get rid of a few unloved toys.
Fortunately, she was interested. She immediately thought of one bear she didn't want (a hand-me-down admittedly) and a book that she didn't like. It felt less about helping others than getting rid of things. As we wrapped the box, I wondered if she got the point of sharing at all, or if this really just was a cleaning-out exercise.

Tonight, I got my answer. Tossed aside in her room was a scrap of wrapping paper, nestled around a stuffed pink cat. I asked her about it, and she said she needed more paper, scrounging until she found a second piece of scrap. And then, she announced, she needed tape.

For 20 minutes, she moved and adjusted and folded and rattled the papers, painstakingly working to secure each and every loose edge.

Finally, I asked her what it was for. It was for her brother, she said.

I silently wondered if she was playing the "present game," when we pretend to give each other a "present" in a well-worn gift bag and practice saying our appreciation. But, no, she was too intense in her wrapping project.

Finally, I asked her if she liked her cat.

"I do," she insisted. "I just thought he would like it, too."
I don't know if next month, she'll remember this was her gift to her brother, but watching her love and care in such a small moment was a blessing in itself.

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