With Christmas fast approaching, our mailbox is becoming daily filled with toy catalogs. And Staley loves nothing more than to look through these catalogs and point out what she wants. Her Christmas list changes with each catalog she looks at, with her requests ranging from a stuffed gorilla to a bouncy house. I know that receiving is a part of Christmas that kids can't help but get excited about, but I also want Staley to realize the joy in giving as well.
Our church participates in the 'Operation Christmas Child' charity, filling shoeboxes with items to be sent overseas to provide Christmas gifts to children living in poverty. So after church on Sunday, Staley and I went shopping to fill our shoebox. On the way to the store, I reminded Staley that Zach and I work so that we have money and can buy presents. Then I told her that some kids don't have money and don't get presents. I explained that we were going to buy presents for a little girl who doesn't have money and doesn't get presents. Staley asked, "What's her name?" I explained that we don't know her name. Then she asked, "How old is she?" I told her that she was 2, just like Staley, and that we are going to make her happy by picking out things that we think she will like. I wasn't sure how much of this Staley would understand, and I was fully prepared for Staley to want, want, want as we picked out toys and other things to fill our shoebox.
I underestimated my big-hearted daughter. We spent 30 minutes going through the store, picking out toothbrushes and socks and coloring books and headbands and toys. Staley took her time, picking out a variety of items that I know she wanted--Dora socks and a Bubble Guppies coloring book and sparkly headbands and even a Lalaloopsie mermaid doll. With each thing she picked out, however, Staley would happily exclaim, "I think the girl will love this." Or "this will make the girl very happy." Not once did she say she wanted to keep something. And when we got home, Staley happily showed each item to Zach and then helped pack it into our box to be sent to our little girl. No requests to play with the items or keep them out of the box. Staley seemed fully aware that these were gifts for someone else, and she was happy about that.
My heart was filled with joy as I watched my daughter so unselfishly embrace the spirit of giving. And yes, as she once again looked through the toy catalogs at home, she wanted, wanted, wanted, wanted. But now I know that she can also look past her wants to think about others. And that makes my heart happy.