Just before Christmas last year, someone gave Jon a very expensive video game console. Since we weren’t sure what we were going to give the kids, we kept the gaming system a secret, wrapped it up, and presented them with a very costly gift that we would not have been able to provide them with had we not been given it by someone else. Jon and I were thrilled to be able to do this and exchanged knowing looks and winks in the days leading up to the 25th.
Around the same time, the kids started clamoring about what they were going to give us. Soon, some oddly-wrapped boxes appeared under the tree with our names scrawled across the top in their handwriting. I didn’t stop to think much about what was actually in the boxes. The kids usually draw pictures for us on special occasions, and if I’m really truthful, I didn’t think that a few pencil scratches on a crumpled piece of lined paper could compare to the extravagant gift that we were reserving for them.
Christmas morning dawned with excitement, and we enjoyed a special homemade breakfast while we watched the Jesus movie, a tradition we’ve been doing for several years now. When it came time to unwrap gifts, the kids were delighted with the video game set, just as we had anticipated.
What caught me off guard, however, were the little gifts that they had worked on so diligently for us. In the first box (there were several), they had placed a small, heart-shaped pillow with the words, “I Love You” stitched on the front. The pillow had come off of a hand-me-down stuffed red devil, of all things, that a sweet-but-misguided neighbor thought the kids would want. I had assumed that the pillow had also made a departure when we had passed along the stuffed toy, but the kids had swiped it and saved it for just this moment.
In the next boxes, each of the spark plugs had given 2 dollars of their hard-earned money to Jon and me so that we could, in their words, use it toward our then-unfinished business app. For children who receive a dollar a week, half of which they either contribute to their savings or toward giving, the thought of them willingly and excitedly giving us the equivalent of three-months-worth of their net income was incredibly humbling.
The last box contained the anticipated scribbles and pictures, but somehow after seeing their creativity and selflessness, they meant a lot more to me than I had originally expected them to.
While we eventually convinced them that we should use their precious gift to splurge on a family serving of frozen yogurt, a rare-but-loved-by-all treat in our family, this was one of my most treasured memories to date. I had thought that our gift to them could never top their gift to us simply because ours had cost (someone else) a substantially greater financial sum.
I was very grateful to be wrong!