Friday, December 2, 2016

Toddlers & The Meaning of Christmas

Our church has an annual tradition of collecting new toys for underprivileged children in a nearby county. This wonderful program helps to ensure that the parents are able to provide Christmas gifts for their children regardless of their current financial situation. In the past, my wife and I had picked out the toys ourselves, but as my son is turning 4 soon we thought that it was time to incorporate him into the process.

So, after several conversations preparing him to pick out toys that were not for him, we ventured into our local Toys-R-Us. While there were some momentary lapses, we were both very proud of how well he did accepting the fact that we were doing this for the benefit of children that we would never meet. We even had some mild success asking him to place the toys in the church’s collection box so that he could see the process through.

It was a few days after this, while he and I were in the car together, that he broached the subject of the donated toys again. He seemed somewhat confused that any boys and girls would not have presents at Christmas since Santa delivered everywhere. I carefully explained that while Santa left each child a large, unwrapped “Santa gift”, the parents and grandparents like buying gifts too but sometimes just cannot afford it. Therefore, the toys that we give would be to supplement the work of Santa.

Since my unassailable logic was obviously having a profound effect on his impressionable young mind, I began to wade into deeper waters. I reminded him that as Christians, we are called to be the “hands and feet” of Christ. I pointed out that one of the most tangible ways to show Christ’s love was to help those in need.

Obviously on a theological roll, I reminded him of the joy he felt when people he loved gave him things and how we should take any and every opportunity to share that joy with others. How Christ was Savior to the meek and marginalized; the poor and the destitute; the outcasts and the has-beens. While we didn’t possess the resources to make every child’s Christmas better, we did have the resources to make every Christmas better for one child.

During my soliloquy, I would occasionally glance in the mirror to watch his face and that is when I knew beyond a doubt that we were through the looking glass. While others might have dismissed such profound ideas as too lofty for a three-year old to absorb, I could see in his eyes that despite all odds I had reached him. I couldn’t wait to explain to my wife that it was my brilliant oration that had led our son to the true meaning of Christmas and inspired what would become a lifetime of serving his fellow man.  

Several moments of silence passed between us before our eyes met in the rear-view mirror and with a contemplative look he said, “Dad?”

“Yes Son?” (mentally preparing to deflect the forthcoming praise and admiration from my firstborn)

(glancing back out his window) “Grandma goes to that carwash sometimes.”

Nailed it. 

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