Today was snow day #2. Snow day #1 started at 6:40 AM when J climbed out of bed and turned on the TV in the next room to check the condition of the roads. I grumbled to myself, still more than half-asleep, "Why couldn't he check the weather on his phone?" Today got off to a better - and later start. Near 8:00, K came clomping up the stairs. I opened my eyes to find her fully dressed, with mittens and coat on and a bag in her hand.
"Mom? Can you zip me up? I want to go to L's house and give him this gift."
"Honey, what's in the bag? It's a little early to go to L's house."
"Oh! It's a gift that will make it easy for L to play with his little brother."
The contents of the bag were a somewhat broken music box. I convinced K not to head out pre-breakfast to give her friend a hand-me-down gift, but her point was this: I want to give L a gift. So I explained to K that I would take her to the store later in the day to pick out a gift for him. She did not forget.
Hours later, we were back from a trip to the downtown library. A trip that revived our weary, cooped up souls with much needed time away from home and wonderful books to read. We had barely finished our post-library lunch when K said, "Can we go buy the present now?" Laundry beckoned, so I mumbled yet another excuse to this six year old whose heart was bursting to give, give, give.
My excuse did not dampen her enthusiasm. I later found her climbing on the step stool to reach her birthday money, which she wanted to use to buy L's gift. Seeing that, I set aside all the chores awaiting me and put on my coat.
A trip to the store energized K. She picked a stocking, then candy to fill it, choosing items that L could share with his family. As I type this post, K is finishing up a pre-dinner snack so that we can walk down the street and deliver the stocking. She wants to wait while L looks through it and sees the treats she picked out for him.
Perhaps it shouldn't surprise me by now how much I learn from my daughters, but it has felt like a special treat to see generosity in action today with K. She is, in fact, the very definition of generous: liberal in both giving and sharing, embodying this aspect of the Christmas spirit exceptionally well. She delights to show others how she feels about them. She delights to give others things that she has or things that she thinks they will like. In fact, she simply delights in others.
I need to learn over and over again that relationship is worth the hurt and pain it brings when done authentically. I sometimes think life would be easier if I were a hermit, left to my own thoughts and unencumbered by possessions and obligations. That life probably would be easier for me, but it's apparently not the life I'm called to. Because relationship is a vehicle for change, a vehicle to change me into who God made me to be. If left to my own devices, without the iron sharpening iron effect of relationship, I would likely still be far more selfish, far more ambitious and far less creative, amongst other things.
I'm not as naturally generous as K. This is due, in part, to my tendency to protect myself emotionally. K lays it all out there - there's no such thing as less than total transparency with her. This is beautiful - and terrifying. Her heart will surely be broken time and again if she continues to lay herself open to people the way she does now. I don't want her heart broken, but I also don't want her heart hardened. I want her to remain the exuberant, loving, generous girl she is. And I want to keep learning from her - about how to give freely and how to live with abandon.