Thursday, November 19, 2009

Operation Christmas Child Hits Home

So today we collected the filled shoeboxes from the church to take to the collection site. Including ours, there were 78! A little down from last year, but I know that there are several folks out there just planning to bring the boxes to the collection site themselves, so we didn't do so badly.

AJ and I filled our box last Sunday night (Joanna and I had bought all of the stuff, but she wasn't so much into the packing). It was VERY hard for my little man to see the fun toys get packed away (along with some soap, pencils, crayons, some copy books, candy, shirts, off-brand play dough, and a few other things), but eventually he got excited about the present for the boys and "dirls" (it helped that he got his own set of play dough to play with). The box has been sitting on the counter since then, and he's mentioned it a couple of times - "Dat p'esent not foh Ay-Day. Dat foh boys an' dirls." He was very excited this morning when the box was clearly ready to leave the house. I had to explain to him that _we_ weren't going to bring it to the boys and girls today, but that we'd give it to someone else who would bring it to them. ("Although," I said, "wouldn't be cool if one day we would get to deliver our own box?!" Planting the seeds early...)

So after our MOPS steering team meeting this morning, AJ helped me load the boxes onto the cart and then into the back (and floorboards) of the car. It was kind of a blessing that we didn't have quite as many as last year since I had an extra passenger (CaptainConundrum) and car seat (Joanna) that weren't there last year (well, Joanna _was_ there, she was just still hitching a ride in my uterus). When we got to the collection site, he helped carry in and stack the boxes, but we saved one for last - OURS.

I'd taken one home from our October MOPS meeting for AJ to help fill, knowing that it might be disastrous, but that it was worth it to teach him early to give to others. He'd been excited when he saw the wrapped box - "Dat foh me, Mom? Dat foh me?" To which I replied, not sure how much he understood, "No, Buddy, that's a present for a little boy or a little girl somewhere else in the world who doesn't have any toys." Thinking that we'd bring it into the store with us when we went to buy the stuff to fill it, I left it in the car, between the car seats.

Every now and then, he'd ask again, "Dat foh me, Mom?" and I'd explain again that no, it was for a little boy or girl far away who maybe didn't have toys to play with. Time passed and passed and there was never a good opportunity to take him out to buy the stuff for the box, so last Sunday after choir practice (when he was _not_ with me), I stopped by Target, and hit their "Dollar Spot" and school supplies aisle. When I came home, AJ was excited to see both the box and the new toys. (Again, "Dat foh me, Mom?" "No, Buddy...") We talked as I packed the box about the little boy or girl who maybe didn't have crayons and paper to draw with or toys to play with or soap. We talked about how they lived far away, about how much God has given to us, and about how that means that we need to give to other people.

He cried a little when the toys went straight into the box, but he was surprisingly good about it, eventually repeating his mantra - "Dat not foh me, dat foh duh boys an' dirls." He was especially upset because the box was getting new play dough, so I was glad when the box was all packed and I could surprise him with his own play dough (which I think has all already dried out or been eaten by Joanna!).

I was reminded at my meeting this morning that if you donated online (you're supposed to pay $7 per box to cover the costs of shipping, etc.), you could print out a bar code to track where your actual box had gone. Since I hadn't yet donated, I borrowed a computer and printed out a barcode for us and taped it on OUR box, which sat on CaptainConundrum's lap the rest of the way to the drop-off location.

After AJ had helped unload the boxes at the drop-off point, I pulled out OUR box from the dashboard. As I handed it to him, I asked if he wanted to pray over it, and he said yes! So we prayed, thanking God first that we had been given so much that we were able to give to others, but then praying that the boy who got our box would enjoy drawing with the crayons and playing with the toys and eating the candy and using the soap. There were tears in my eyes as I thought about how proud I was of my little man, not yet 3, who was so generously and happily giving up fun toys that he would love to a little boy that he'd probably never meet.

Then we got to the stacks of boxes and he started to cry. We asked where he wanted to stack his box and got an incoherent response. Thinking that he maybe just couldn't reach the top of one of the stacks, I helped him put the box down, at which point he collapsed onto the floor, face buried in his hands, boohoo-ing about how he wanted to draw (with the crayons that our prayer had reminded him were in the box). I picked my sobbing boy up off of the floor and carried him to the car (picking up an "I donated a shoe box" sticker along the way), reminding him about his crayons at home and how we were giving OUR box to a little boy who didn't have any crayons.

He calmed down eventually, and I'm still _VERY_ proud of him, but what can I say? He's not even 3 yet. We've done well not getting too much "MINE" from him, but he's still a very little boy.

Someday I'll remind him of this, his first time giving away something that was hard. I think on that day maybe _I'll_ be giving away something hard as he goes out into the world to do the work that God has for him to do. A mommy can certainly dream worse dreams for her little man.


CaptainConundrum said...

Woo! My lap got honorable mention! I'm on the road to fame! BTW, your little man only needed a snack and some VeggieTales music to cheer right up. I think part of the boo-hooing was sleepiness.

One More Equals Four said...

We have done these boxes for years. I'm not sure if it will help, but it DOES get better! It would be so fun to get to go deliver the boxes yourself, my husband and I have discussed that many times!

Have a great weekend!

Rachel Anne said...

Aww, what a sweet, sweet experience with giving! Your little guy is learning a great lesson from such a young age! I could just hear "dat foh me?" Cute.

I was reading along and suddenly said, "Hey! I KNOW CAPTAIN CONUNDRUM!" I didn't know you were fun is that. I'm enjoying getting to know both of you.

Anonymous said...

Great lesson for your son. We've also done those boxes before. Awesome project for the family,
Have a wonderful weekend!