They are Christmas shopping at their school’s secret Santa Shop.
I know they will just buy junk. It’s their only choice. What else can you expect from a school fundraiser? Or worse yet, what can you expect from a dollar?
They begged me all week to let them. I did everything possible to put it off, hoping it would pass. Until I began to feel like a horrible, Grinch of a parent.
My daughters are thinking little about the value of the gift. They are excited for the opportunity to be a giver.
Neither will be able to contain the joy of giving. I give them less than 24 hours before they beg us to open their gifts.
It happens every year. They can’t wait until Christmas. They want to experience our reaction, now.
I can’t blame them. I was just as bad.
It was a Christmas tradition in our family to make the hour drive to a downtown Columbus department store for their secret Santa Shop.
So many memories. As soon as you walked in the main door, a trail of reindeer paw prints led you to the Christmas wonderland. Along the way, you passed the talking tree (my favorite). You could stop for a visit on Santa’s lap. It was magical.
At a certain point, parents were off-limits. They sent you in a kids only shop with an envelop of money marked with amounts you can spend on each family member. Everything was kid friendly. The shelves were miniature. Each section was marked by a dollar amount. Even the cash register was built at kid level.
You felt like a big person. Shopping all by yourself. Walking out with a bag of gifts in nifty gift boxes clearly marked for each family member.
One year, my excitement overtook me. I was so proud of myself. I couldn’t even make it out of the store before spilling the beans.
I popped out of the store to quickly tell my parents, “I bought dad per-chume.” That’s right, I said “per-chume” instead of perfume.
I still remember it, vividly. It was a small, white bottle of old-spice. Haha. I remember taking off the lid and smelling it.
It wasn’t the gift that counted for my dad (and mom), it was the giver.
I’m sure he never wore the cologne other than the one time that I asked him to try it. He wasn’t enamored with the gift.
He was filled with a deep feeling of love for me, his son, the giver. He could care less about what I bought. The joy of seeing me give was enough.
Learning that it’s the giver, not the gift that counts changes how you receive.
You receive whatever it is with a gratitude that far exceeds the value of what’s given. You are receiving love, which money can’t buy.
I needed this reminder from my kids this year. I am not a god receiver. I don’t like opening gifts for fear of disappointing the giver with my reaction.
Guess I’ve been focusing on the wrong thing. The joy comes not from what you are receiving, but from who.