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Giving and Receiving

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We’re on the way to the fire station, two heaping black garbage sacks of new toys seated beside me. A year’s worth of unopened “extra” toys from my then two children’s birthdays slowly piled up over the year in boxes marked “Toys for Tots” now await delivery. 


I have been eagerly anticipating this moment: We are giving back. My children are going to learn the amazing lesson of giving back. 


With bated breath I call out eagerly to the two figures strapped in car seats behind me, “This is so nice! You can help Mommy give these bags to the fire fighters so they can give them to children who don’t have toys.” 


In the parking lot I sing out to “follow Mommy!” as I lug and heave the sacks up the path to the door. 


William rings the door bell before Lauren can, but I’m able to quell the squabble before the smiling fire fighter opens the door. 


The sermon I planned about the importance of philanthropy is interrupted when two year old William spots one of the toys poking out of the sack beside me. “What’s that?” 


“A Madeline doll house. A doll house for the kids in need. Now shush. I …” 


“I want it! I WANT to have it!” he cries, extending his arms toward the sacks. 


I’m now fielding the appendages of my tot from prying open the already stretched sack plastic while his six year old sister starts chastising him about his selfishness. 


Back to the car we scurry, my wailing son carried over my shoulder. 


So much for magical moments. 


I feel my body contract as I slam the car door, my frame hunched behind the steering wheel like the Scrooge, bah-humbuging all of the effort, all of the hopes in turning my children into true humanitarians. 


Lauren begins lecturing her brother that “there are children who don’t have the toys we have William. They have nothing.” 


“I know, Mommy!” she excitedly calls out, “I’m going to start collecting my toys for kids who have nothing!” 


My heart swells with pride. I can feel it growing three sizes like Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch. 


I smile back at her in the rear view mirror. The moment’s been reclaimed! 


Turning to her little brother next to her she continues, “Then William, we can get all new toys!” 


Life lesson cut in portions, but we’re getting there.

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