Monday, December 20, 2010

Trinkets in Tiny Stockings

Grace discovered two small Christmas stockings while searching for decorations for her tiny tree.

Lacking a mantel, she stuck them to Jack's wall with Scotch tape.

She decided the sibs should fill each other's stockings with little gifts as they counted the days until Christmas. After buying a stocking, Emma also joined in.

Life was good...for three days.

By day four, Jack was desperate. He didn't have as many trinkets as his sisters and rummaged through his room as best he could.

The next morning, Jack opened his stocking to find light stick bracelets from Emma and a lollipop from Grace. The girls didn't fare as well. Emma's stocking had three used crayons, a dried-out marker and half of an eraser.

It was even worse for Grace. She emptied her stocking to find a tiny stuffed animal - one that was hers in the first place. She left it in Jack's room several weeks before and Jack saw an opportunity to fill Grace's stocking with a new-found item.

After that ill-fated exchange, Missy intervened...once she stopped laughing.

She picked up a few Family Dollar items for Jack to give and searched through her things to supplement his meager collection.

When I noticed this weekend that Jack's stocking was bulging while his sisters' were noticeably flatter, I asked him if he was still participating.

"I want to, but I don't have anything good," he said, "and Mom gives me bad things...like little friendship pins from Valentine's Day. I asked her for some of the other stuff in her jewelry box, but she said they were 'too precious.'"

Emma, who overheard the conversation, said it appeared Grace was dealing with her own shortages.

"Last night she gave me something of Jack's." "What is it?" he asked. "I'm not telling you because I'm giving it to you tonight," she answered.

When Jack protested that Emma couldn't give him something that was already his, she reminded him about his own similar action with Grace as well as the used gifts she received.

"I don't want any more broken crayons," she said, laughing.

Jack assured her, however, that she could expect a more bountiful stocking in the coming days.

"I found some crayons that are still good...they're not broken."

Even without hearing Grace's version of the story, I'm filled with laughter...and memories of similar gift giving with my own siblings years ago.

In a culture where the urge to give beyond one's means is often the norm, I am gratified this Christmas to see in my children a willingness to give for the sake of giving.

In their selfless giving, they have received a gift far more valuable - one of appreciativeness.

They've learned that what we receive may not always be what we anticipated, but gifts given out of kindness will always be remembered...as will the laughter that sometimes accompanies them.

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