by Melissa Face (published at http://www.sasee.com December 2018)
I read an article years ago about how important it is to appreciate gifts from children, especially those that are handmade. Children want to give, but they have neither the money nor the transportation to shop at a store. So, they make things for the people they care about. It is one of the purest expressions of love that exists.
My children are no exception. They draw, cut, color and paste items from around the house, sometimes items that already belong to me. They present these items to us on holidays with so much pride their faces literally glow.
Last July, my two kids handed me a gift bag on my birthday. I watched them nearly burst as I pulled out dozens of creations they made from napkins: hearts covered in stickers, cards with fringed edges, and cut-outs of our entire family. I told them that I loved everything they made, and that I truly appreciated the thought and hard work that they put into their gifts.
Now that my older child, Evan, is in elementary school, he has the opportunity to buy Christmas gifts through his school’s Secret Santa Shop. Last December, we sent twenty dollars to school for him to shop for: his sister, grandparents, father, and me. He came home that day, told us he had bought wonderful gifts, and then went to his room to wrap them so they could go under the tree.
A few weeks before Christmas, my husband, Craig, and my son were watching a Steelers game. My husband has been a Steelers fan all his life. And though I really don’t give a hoot about football, I mimic his enthusiasm to keep things fun.
Throughout the game, Evan kept asking my husband questions about the Washington Redskins.
“Do you like the Redskins?” Evan asked him.
“No. Not really,” my husband answered. “They have never been a team that I follow.”
“Well, what would be your second favorite team?” Evan inquired.
“I guess if I had to pick a second favorite, I would say the Patriots, since I’m from New England.”
“Oh. Okay. What is your third favorite team?”
“I’m not really sure, Buddy. I’ve never thought about a third favorite team before. Maybe the Broncos.”
“Okay,” Evan responded.
Evan and his dad continued watching the Steelers game. Craig noticed that Evan had become quieter and appeared to be deep in thought.
Evan said, “I think my second favorite team is the Redskins.”
“That’s fine,” Craig told him. “You can like any team you want.”
“Washington is pretty close by, Dad,” Evan rationalized. “We could easily go to one of their games.”
“You’re right, Buddy. We sure could,” Craig agreed.
A while later, the Steelers game had wrapped up and Craig and Evan were throwing the football in the playroom. Evan blurted out, “Dad! I think I really messed up!”
“What’s wrong, Buddy? What do you mean?”
“All my school had for football gifts was Redskins stuff. So, I had to buy you a Redskins present for Christmas.”
My husband’s heart sank. He searched for words to console Evan. He told him that the Redskins were a great team and that they would make plans to go see them play one day.
Evan seemed satisfied, but Craig felt miserable. There is not much worse than seeing your child disappointed.
In the days leading up to Christmas, my husband and I made an effort to mention the Redskins in casual conversation. We talked about their record, how my great-grandfather was a faithful fan, and Evan and Craig looked online at player profiles. We did everything we could to make Evan feel better about his purchase.
On Christmas morning, the kids opened their gifts from Santa, enjoyed their stockings, and played with new toys. Then, Evan jumped up and yelled, “It’s my turn to hand out gifts!” He went to the tree and grabbed his presents and passed them out.
The first gift he handed out was for his dad. Craig opened the square box and pulled out a Redskins bracelet.
“Do you like it?” Evan asked.
“I love it,” Craig responded, as he slid it onto his wrist. “And it fits me perfectly.”
The rest of Evan’s gifts were also a hit, and our entire Christmas morning was one of the best we have ever had as a family.
Months have passed since Craig received his Redskins bracelet and became the team’s newest fan. He still wears it every single day.
And when the day comes that it breaks and can no longer be worn, we will retire it to my desk drawer, where it will reside alongside our other treasures: handmade cards, napkin creations, and coloring sheets. It will be in good company, among the best gifts a parent could ever receive.