Let me just warn you now to get your tissues.
This holiday season has been strange. For Marc and myself. Neither one of us ever felt like we really got into the Christmas spirit, and shopping for the kids definitely happened last minute. We never made gingerbread houses or decorated Christmas cookies, or celebrated any traditions to speak of. I did get the pre-lit tree up, but we never got around to decorating it. We did make a trip to see Santa, but this season was Holiday Spirit Fatigue at its worst!
When I though all hope was lost, we finally piled up into the car as a family and headed to the Christmas Eve service at church. Singing the hymns, and hearing the Christmas story read against a backdrop of gorgeous music began reminding me really of why we celebrate this holiday. Then we sang "O Holy Night." When we got to the part where you sing, "Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices..." the whole congregation rose to their feet, hands were raised, and tears were streaming down my face. Truly, what a divine night.
The lights came up and we began to gather our things to leave, when Aidan, my five year old, told me he needed to find the buckets. I asked him what he meant and he explained that when the buckets went by he didn't have enough time to get his money out of his pocket and that he wanted to give money...
Let's rewind a minute (get your tissues now). Besides the fact that all of the kiddos are really grabbing onto the whole doing chores for money thing, Poppa Tony gave each child $20 for Christmas when we went to visit Florida last week.
Now, I know for a fact that Aidan had spent all his chore money earlier on vacation, so what he had in his pocket was definitely Christmas gift money. I asked him if he knew what the buckets were for, and sure enough he'd paid attention. They had announced that the offering that evening would be given to a couple of different ministries, one being an organization that serves orphans. He said, "I want to give money to the boys and girls who don't have mommies and daddies."
We found someone and asked about how we could still give even though the buckets had been put away, and were directed to a drop box. I saw him unroll a ten, five, and three one dollar bills. I asked which one he wanted to give, to which he replied, "Well, I can only give one dollar, because I have to have enough to buy everyone presents tonight. We can still go to Walgreens tonight to buy everyone presents, right?" I assured him we would go (crossing my fingers they'd be open) after we opened presents at Mimi's. I then reached into my own wallet to give to the orphans to match my son's generous gift.
At this point in the evening Marc and I were truly pooped. In the last 36 hours, we'd spent over 20 in the car, arriving back in Tulsa from Florida at 4am, hosted a Christmas Eve gift exchange for my brother's family and my dad, and still had to have dinner and presents at my mom's before spending the greater part of the night wrapping all of our own presents to put under the tree before Christmas morning! I was making a committment here to patience.
After a great dinner and a lot of fun watching kids open presents with Mimi and Poppy, we headed home to get ready for bed so Santa could come. Aidan, Alec and I headed to Walgreens for our last outing. Aidan was so insistent on buying presents for each of his siblings, and for Marc. He put his $17 dollars and change into a gift bag and we got started. He had estimated in his mind that he could spend about $2 per person, so we were on a really tight budget, but he wasn't deterred or frustrated. He thought about each person individually and took his time looking for items that they would like. You'd think he would come away with nothing but packets of gum, but he didn't. Carter and Alec were easy, he found $2 packages of Gogo's Crazy Bones and some mini Lego men, then Corrinne was a little harder. He wanted to get her some lipgloss, but there were a lot of choices and he got overwhelmed. He asked me what her favorite color was and I told him it was green. "There's no green lipgloss, Mom!" Then he spotted some green sparkly fingernail polish for $1.87, snagged it and threw it in the bag.
After finding a Disney Princess toy camera for his baby half sister, Sage, we were onto Marc. At this point he had $9, which we knew for sure because as he shopped, Aidan was pulling out the exact amount of money into his hand so he'd know how much he'd spent and how much he had left. He was meticulous. I asked what he wanted to get Marc. He wanted to get him a neck massager, "Because he works so hard, Momma, and that would make his neck feel better," but that was $20, outside of his budget. Then he remembered seeing a display of items themed from the movie A Christmas Story, one of Marc's favorite movies.
"You remember that part in the movie where the little boy comes out in the bunny costume that he doesn't like?"
"Can we see if they have anything with that on it?"
Sure enough, there was a bobble head doll of Ralphie in his bunny costume. For $8.50. In the budget. We grabbed it, put it in our gift bag and headed to the counter. I promised Aidan I'd cover the change he'd need for tax and he was delighted with his finds.
I wish you could have seen his face the next morning as he handed out his gifts, one at a time, explaining to each person why he chose that gift. The looks on each child's face was so precious. Aidan really had chosen the perfect gifts. It didn't matter the price, they really were toys they wanted and appreciated. And Marc was blown away by his bobble head, so impressed he told me, "We have to wrap this up and make sure it stays with the Christmas decorations."
My sweet, sweet boy somehow got it, in spite of my failure to catch the bandwagon this holiday season.
Watching my son so excitedly hand out his presents to our family made this my most favorite Christmas memory ever. To heck with Christmas cookies and decorations!
It truly is better to give than to receive.
Love and Honey,