A few weeks ago, my husband and I took our boys, Miles (5) and Spencer (3) to see Santa. We had put it off several times because it just seemed like a big ordeal, we knew it would be busy, and we just wanted it to be “right.”
Do you know what I mean, wanting it to be “right”? I want everyone to be dressed nicely, faces freshly scrubbed, no one overtired and grumpy…Unfortunately, I fear that I spend so much time waiting for the “right” moment that I miss the opportunity to just let things happen. And when I just let things happen, I’m usually amazed by how my vision of right was actually wrong.
For about a week prior, I had been prepping the boys, asking them to be thinking of what they wanted for Christmas, telling them that this was their chance to ask Santa for something.We finally made it to see the mall Santa, after securing a Fast Pass to avoid the inevitably long line. We were able to bypass the line, which would have easily meant an hour or more’s wait, and after just five minutes in line, it was our turn.
It happened quickly, the boys went up to talk to Santa by themselves while we stood to the side, then they smiled for the camera and we got a cute picture to put into a scrapbook. As we walked over to the checkout desk to receive our photo, I bent down and asked the boys what they had asked Santa for. Miles looked at me and said “I asked Santa for a blue car to give to a boy or girl who doesn’t have any toys. We have a lot of toys, too many cars, Mommy.” Feeling a lump in my throat, I hugged tightly and gave him a kiss on the top of his head.
Over the next few days, Miles continued to talk about the blue car. “I hope Santa remembers to bring the blue car to give to another kid.” “Another kid is going to be so happy to see that blue car!” In the busyness of the season, I made several frantic trips around town grabbing last minute gifts and sure enough, on Christmas Eve, I was in Walmart searching for a blue car to wrap and put under the tree from Santa.
Before wrapping the car, I wrote a letter to Miles from Santa (sorry, Claus, I forged your name) and included it in the package.
I have to admit, I was slightly worried that he would unwrap the gift and want to play with the car, thinking that perhaps he would forget about those kids who don’t get many presents at Christmas. But the next morning, the boys opened their one gift from Santa and Miles said “I’m not going to get this out, we’re going to save it for another boy or girl.”
Without a plan as to what we would do with the toy, we loaded up the car that afternoon and headed to Tennessee to visit my parents. My mom, always well-prepared, called a few non-profit organizations in their area to find a place where we could deliver the car.
Before we arrived at Mom and Dad’s house, after a long day in the car, we stopped at a homeless shelter that was serving a Christmas meal. We walked in and found a staff person and I asked Miles to tell him why we were there. Miles handed the car to the man and said “I asked Santa for this car to give to someone who doesn’t have a lot of toys.” We spoke to the man for a few moments and he asked for Miles’s name and then we left, having delivered that special blue car.
I know the car isn’t a big deal; it’s not a fantastic toy that a child would be hoping to receive under their Christmas tree. But for us, it was about the reminder that we are blessed beyond measure and that we need to spend time giving rather than receiving during the holidays and throughout the year. I’m not sure where he got the idea to ask Santa for a gift for someone else. It might have come from church, or the Christian school where he attends Kindergarten. It may have come from our recent trip to get small gifts to pack in a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. It may have come from my requests to think of some toys in their playroom that we could get rid of, because we have so many.
Wherever it came from, I was grateful for my son’s sweet request and I hope that he continues to not just understand that others don’t live in a nice house, have food on the table at every meal, and more than enough toys, but wants to act on that understanding. I hope he can remind me often that it’s more important to think of others than ourselves. And finally, I hope he knows that this Christmas, he received a most wonderful gift, the gift of giving.