stories, lessons, and a lot of nonsense

I find great joy in giving gifts.  I also find great joy in receiving gifts.  I guess I have the spiritual gifts of giving and receiving.  I would be lying if I said I always enjoy giving more than getting.  I think most people would be lying if they said that.  There are times we want presents.  We want new things to replace our old things, even if they haven’t gotten old yet.  Exhibit A: see my shoe collection (which got bigger by one pair on Saturday).

I used to spoil Sarah, because I could.  She used to spoil me in return, because she could.  We used to have two well-paying jobs and zero children, and giving to each other was probably on the side of effortless and perhaps gratuitous.  It takes a lot more to give to each other now, because we don’t have as much.  Mine is the only income, and the preexisting debts of a foolish young couple are those of a two income family.  Oh, and have I ever mentioned that we have a kid?  His name is Jakob, and he’s pictured above (in case you’ve never seen a picture of him).  So giving takes planning, creativity, saving (which I’m not good at), and usually a special occasion.

This weekend, I did a wedding for a really cool couple, and I had fun doing it.  They are great people to be around.  As per us’, I was paid as the performing minister.  It is rare for us to receive extra income, so I had an idea of what I wanted to do with the money already.  It’s the same thing I always want to do when I get extra money: buy one pair of shoes.  Sarah told me to spend the money on me, which I liked the sound of, and I spent several hours on selfishly planning to do that.  Then I felt bad when I realized what I was doing.  I wanted to share.  I really do love giving gifts to them as much as I like receiving them, and often times even more so.

So I decided to buy Jakob a big toy, and give the remaining portion to Sarah (which gave us all similar amounts of spending money).  Now, bear with me while I tell you about Jakob and how good he is in stores.  We go to Target a lot, and every time we do, he wants to go see Buzz.  Buzz is his favorite.  It might be the only word he says perfectly.  He loves to press the buttons on the light up, talking toy.  He’ll pick up the box and smile in at him, say his name about twenty times, press all the buttons.  He really enjoys himself.  When it’s time for us to move on – and moving on means putting the toy back, because we usually can’t afford it – we tell him to say goodbye to Buzz.  So he gently puts him back on the shelf, adjusting him to make sure the box is on straight and facing out, and waves goodbye.  He walks away without a fuss.

It makes me proud every time, but it also makes me a little sad.  I want to buy things for him.  I want him to have whatever he wants.  But then I realize that he is a really unselfish kid, and he’s content to play for a few minutes and put him away.  So when we took him to Meijer the other day and let him play for a few minutes with Buzz, he started to hand him back to me.  He figured it was time to put him away and move on.  But I asked if he wanted Buzz.  I asked if he wanted to take him home with us.  He looked down at Buzz, disappearing from my view behind the big box, and then his head came up above the box again.  He’s almost two, but even at his age, the drop jawed look of shock was obvious.  The light in his eyes was bright.  He has my smile, which means it stretches widely from ear-to-ear when he’s excited, and he was, and it did.

When we got home, I set out to get his toy out of the package for him.  It took many minutes, thanks to our country’s abundance of shoplifters.  Jakob just kept saying, “Buzz!  Buzz!  Buzz!”  He was losing his patience.  I finally got him out and gave it to him.  He took off running with him, vocalizing some crazy noises that he must relate to Buzz.  He said his own name a few times, probably telling Buzz he wasn’t Andy’s toy, but Jakob’s.  He played for a long time like a little boy, not like a baby.  He made sound effects, pressed the buttons, ran around and flew Buzz through the air.

I had tears in my eyes as I watched him play.  Honestly, I had tears in my eyes while we were still in the store and on the drive home.  I got more as I typed this, thinking about how good my son is, how much he deserves to be given things for his good behavior, and how much he loves his new favorite toy that he really does deserve.  Look at his face again in the picture above.  That is the face of a kid who expects very little, enjoys what he has, and is overcome with joy and appreciation when he gets something out of the ordinary.  He and Sarah have similar personalities.  Neither one takes gifts for granted, and both show sincere appreciation every time they get something.  How could I not want to keep giving them gifts for the rest of my life?

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