Every holiday I have a favourite moment. A few years ago, it was when my boys sold candy canes that they decorated with some of their buddies and gave the $70 that they raised to the food bank.
Last year it was when we carolled at the nursing home.
So this year I had big hopes that my favourite moment would likely be when my boys and I volunteered to man the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle at the Bridgewater Mall.
I thought after our 2 hour shift, my kids would learn about gratitude and what it means to give. I thought they’d feel the spirit of the holidays and really feel the importance of community and giving. See, big hopes.
Thirty minutes into our two hour shift, Evan grew antsy and asked for my phone. I thought that was fair, and I gave it to him, thinking that he’d want to play games.
I was wrong. He called his father. And while he muffled his conversation so I couldn’t hear it, this is what I made out:
Hi… Daddy… Yeah… You have to break me out of here and come get me… But it’s sooo boring… This is soooo embarrassing… But…I already asked her and she said no…she said she won’t give me any money because that would contradict this whole stupid lesson she’s trying to teach us…Dad…come on…fine…bye.
And while I was a little bit heart broken, I couldn’t help but chuckle under my breath.
I ended up giving each boy a toonie and told them to go in the Dollar Store, mostly because I wanted the whining to stop. They came back happier with these two stupid blinking things. Their mood continued to get better as the end of our shift grew nearer.
We walked to the book store and despite feeling defeated, I thought it was worth one last ditch effort to see if they got the point of it all.
“So guys, do you at least feel good about what you did tonight?” I asked, hoping that they’d catch on to my leading question.
“Yeah, it felt good to help all those starving kids in Africa,” Colin piped up.
I was too tired to tell him the difference, I simply explained it was the Salvation Army and the kids we were helping were local.
On the way home, I was in terrible need of a drink so we popped into Jens and explained the whole story while all the kids played. Wayne later asked the boys if they did anything tonight that was cool, either to give them one last chance to prove they got it or to throw salt in my wound, I’m not quite sure which. Colin said, “We went to Wendy’s, and we bought blinking buddies, yeah, that’s about it. “
Then I asked if they raised money, again, a leading question. Colin said, “Oh, yeah, we raised money for the army.” I just hung my head.
At bedtime, I tucked the boys in and Evan hugged my neck. He said, “Thanks for today, mom.” Sure, he might have meant, thanks for letting him try out for spring hockey, he might have meant, thanks for buying him a Frosty from Wendy’s, he even might have been thanking me for that stupid blinking thing from the Dollar Store. But if it’s all the same to you, I’m going with, thanks for the lesson in giving.
I appreciate your restraint in commenting the difference.