Friday, December 18, 2009

The Tale of the Cheerful Giver

The lovely ladies and I have been gone for a week. Oh, Indiana. Oh, family. Oh, home. Oh, constant, constant presence in my ever changing, tumultuous life. As much as I know I am needed here and wanted to be reunited with my Husband and have us be a whole family again, I had to practically rip myself away from my parents. I depend on my Mother and Father for so much more than I ever dreamed I would. Had you told me that when I was 17, my head would have spun around nine times as green spew frothed from my mouth along with a string of obscenities that would make a drill Sargent proud. How life has changed me. The bumps along the way, they have somehow softened me and what was once a brittle heart. Just like a Timex.

Takes a lickin and keeps on tickin

I went home for a week to celebrate Christmas with Family and to have a birthday party for Elsbeth (who turned three: big, fat OMG!) because there are a bounty of cousins and family and children of my friends close in age to her. The fun and depth of the birthday experience is deserving of it's own post, although it may just remain a fond personal memory. Let's just say between her party and the Grandparents, the girl, once again, racked up.

As I was unpacking today I stood in her room wondering where we were going to put all of this new booty. And then I had an idea. I recently saw something online about the high number of families with children in homeless shelters in the DC area. So, I proposed my idea to Ellie.

"Ellie", I said, "there are a lot of children this Christmas that don't have any homes and probably won't get any toys for Christmas. And since you have so many, what do you think about giving those children some of yours?"

Her eyes lit up, sparkling with innocence and glee, "Yeah!"

And then she asked me for a bag and when I brought it to her, she began to fill it with toys. But not just any toys. Some of her favorite toys. All the while exclaiming to me how much these children would enjoy playing with them. Just to make sure she understood, I got down on one knee and explained to her that we were GIVING these toys away and that they would now BELONG to the kids forever.

She nodded, smiling, and said " Yeah, I know Mommy."

I thought Katrina did a pretty good job of making me impartial to material possessions. I'd lost them all before, so I could easily give them all up again. That is, until they belonged to the daughter I didn't have during Katrina and she wanted to give them away. Her favorites. For the a moment as she joyfully bagged her beloved possessions, there was a brief struggle within my heart.

NO, it said. Help her choose things that she doesn't play with. She NEEDS those things! They are HERS! You spent thirty dollars on that! And then a thought so quietly and simply floated into my heart and made silent the inner argument. It is the still, small voice that I sometimes choose not to hear. But this time I heard it.

Sell all your possessions and follow me.

The dialogue changed from NO! To: Do not stifle or limit her cheerful giving. Let her give freely anything that she wants. And I accepted that. The moment that I did I was freed from an unknown weight that I didn't even know I was carrying. I was liberated and it was liberating. We filled bag after bag, me following her lead on what to give. The smile never left her face and the glimmer of a soul brimming with innocence and joy spilled out of her eyes like shards of diamonds.

As I sat on her bedroom floor with the baby in my lap, a mess of titanic proportions surrounding us, I realized that this moment was a life lesson not only for her, but for me as well. I am the teacher and the student. This time it was the child who taught the teacher.

And a little child shall lead them

In the end we managed to fill almost three large grocery bags with books and toys.

They come and they go
of this, I know.
But what we learned


Aged One said...

Coming to Him with the faith of little child! I can only hope that I shall continue to be taught by my children and my children's children! It is a wonderful world looking out from their hearts!
What a beautiful post!
Moms- read it to your little ones.

Amanda said...

Love it. You are an inspiration, my dear friend.

Now, if someone wants to give you girls a plane ticket out here....


Lauren said...

This is awesome Jill. By far some of my favorite holiday memories center around giving and doing for others. For me, the joy in giving didn't become apparent until I was a teen; what a wonderful kind-hearted daughter you have to feel that urge at such an early age.

Kelly said...

What a beautiful reminder that we are selfish at heart and need the prompting of the H.S. and the innocence of children to guide us in our adult know-it-all lives. Thanks for sharing your honest heart and your willingness to learn from a 3-year old :)