, I forgot to mention our family’s most consistent tradition. Every year, at the beginning of the holiday season, my daughter and I have a huge fight. This fight is my fault, but I instigate it every year without fail.
I tell her we have to give away some of her things.
Oh, things. The things we spend money on, and the things she finds in the dirt. Everything from a wombat stuffie lovingly brought back from Australia from her beloved Tutu to a small metal chain she found on the playground at Grasslawn park. The child loves her things.
And I am a serial un-hoarder. Lack of clutter may be my true religion.
So every year, to free up space for the inevitable flood of wonderful stuff that’s coming in the mail from loved ones from here to Mars, I try to get her to empty her drawers by giving away the toys she’s outgrown to children that need them.
And her first response is hysterical tears.
I read the articles about , and her amazing campaign to give water to people who need it that is living on past her heartbreaking untimely death. Then I look at my child, sobbing while clinging to a bin of Legos that she never plays with but absolutely cannot give to a young boy somewhere who will love them.
Keep your things, my small child. Keep your clutter. But know that under the tree this year, you will receive a gift from Heifer International. Your present will be the knowledge that somewhere in the world, because of you, another child has been given the chore of gathering chicken eggs or milking a goat. And you will hear how grateful that child will be for that chore.
The next time that we go to the grocery store, we will go over to the pre-packed bags of food for . You will look in the bags and see what people eat who have few choices in their meals. You will carry the bag yourself to the bin and put it in. And you will get nothing but a hug.
We are going through your coats to find the ones whose sleeves are too short for you and we will take them up to . On the way, I will tell you all about the very cold girl who also loves purple who is just a little bit smaller than you. Maybe we’ll walk in to drop them off without wearing our coats so that you can see why she needs yours.
And you will get to sit on my lap while I go to Rachel’s Charity:Water site. I will explain to you through my tears what this little girl did, and why so many people remember her. I will hug you and cry and give money to someone in need in memory of a child whose heart was bigger than her own life. You will sigh at your softie of a mom, and you will bring me tissues and roll your eyes.
And someday, someday my dearest love, you will remember this moment when you see your own child’s greedy hands clinging to something that could help someone else, and you will thank me. Because you can’t reach out to the world with a fist full of Legos.
Unclenching your grabby fingers is the biggest gift I can give you.
I wish you the joy of an empty hand and a full heart. Happy Holidays.