Giving to others is a gift in and of itself.
My three-year-old loves matchbox cars. There is absolutely nothing he loves more. I have learned that little boys can never have enough cars. He has a bucketful, and I often find him rummaging through it looking for one specific car. He loves holding them and driving them around the house; he loves examining them and spinning their wheels. He loves to build with his Magic Tracks and push the cars around it. He sleeps with a car in each little hand. All of his other toys lay scattered around and ignored. He only sees the cars.
But Chanukah is coming, and I got it into my head that he must have a new and amazing present for each night. I was thinking that he will only understand the depth of my love for him if he is showered with big, bright, expensive toys. I scoured ads and searched Amazon looking for the newest, most exciting toys. I tried to envision him playing with a parking garage or a doctor’s kit, but I knew he would not go for it.
My momma’s guilt was coming in strong. My 15 year-old-daughter had a huge list of what she wanted. What would it look like if she got all she asked for and he got a little car? People might think I was neglecting him or that I didn’t love him as much as I loved her. I kept thinking I needed to prove my love and devotion to this child. It just wouldn’t look right if I didn’t.
I filled my Amazon cart up with all of the toys I wanted to give him. My heart was full, and my pride was intact. And then my daughter walked into the room. “Remember, Mom,” she said. “the first year when we were alone for Chanukah, you were feeling sad because you didn’t have a lot of money to buy us gifts? One night I got a box of Bazooka gum, and one night I got cotton candy. I was so happy! You got me just what I wanted!”
She continued talking. “Remember the year you got me a bike? I never rode it. I never wanted it. And remember the scooter? I rode it a few times, but I kept bumping my ankles on it. I didn’t really like it. It was better when you just gave me what I wanted.”
As she walked away, I found myself mulling over what she said. I opened up my Amazon cart and deleted every item. Gift-giving is about giving the person what they really want, not what you want to give. It’s about showing you know them well enough to know what will make them happy. It’s about caring. It’s about understanding. It’s about love.
So, I am on my way to Walmart. They sell matchbox cars for $.94. I will be buying eight of them. Each night of Chanukah, I will lovingly take a picture of my little boy opening a package that has a shiny new little car. I will see his smile and hear his laugh, and he will know that he is loved.