Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Memorable Christmas Lesson

Tonight for Family Home Evening, I wanted to help Nathan (and Eli) understand how we can find joy through giving to others this Christmas season. 

Derik and I knew that Eli wouldn't understand the lesson completely, so this Family Home Evening lesson was geared mainly for Nathan. 

Derik read the book Christmas Oranges.  (**Spoiler Alert!!**) Then he took some time to visit with Nate about the children sharing their oranges with Rose, and how happy it made her - but especially how happy each of those children felt after sharing what they had with Rose.  Derik then talked to Nathan about the children in our area that don't have a home, coats, clothing, or toys, and asked if he would like to share one of his toys with another little boy his age (specifically a stuffed animal).  Nate got so excited and ran to his room to retrieve a toy.

He came running back into the family room with his beloved stuffed whale, and declared that this was the toy he wanted to share.

On a side note:  Nate has always been attached to his stuffed animals.  Some are very well-loved, while others have hardly been touched.  He will cling to a particular animal for several weeks, and then move on to another. 

Derik and I explained to Nathan that this toy would not be coming home - that if he wanted to donate his stuffed whale, he certainly could, but to remember that it was a gift for another boy his age that needed a toy for Christmas.

Just then, the phone rang, and Derik answered it.  I got up and went into the kitchen.  Neither of us really noticed what transpired in those few moments where our full attention was diverted, but we both heard Nathan's door shut and a few moments after that, crying.  Derik went into Nathan's room to visit with him:

"What's wrong, Nate?"

(Tearfully, and hugging his whale tightly) "I really like my whale.  I don't want to give him away.  I will really miss him."

"You can choose another toy to give if you'd like."

So Derik helped Nathan gather all of his stuffed animals together so they could decide which animal Nathan would like to give for Christmas.  In the meantime, I came in the room to join the conversation.
We discussed the different options with the different animals and again explained how some children don't have the nice things that we have.  Some children don't have a coat to wear, or warm clothes, or even clean socks.  And how some children won't receive any toys for Christmas without help from others. 

We talked about saying a prayer to Heavenly Father asking for help in choosing a toy, and for help to make his heart feel good about his decision.  Then I asked Nathan which animal was his favorite.  He looked at me questioningly (I wonder now if he thought he had to give away his very favorite).  I asked him again to show my his very favorite animal.  He picked up the kitty and handed it to me, and I set it aside.  We went through the remaining stuffed animals in the same manner until we reached the last one.  When we got to the last toy, we asked Nathan if he would be willing to give this stuffed animal so another [little boy] could have one for Christmas (thankfully, the last toy was one that has hardly been touched). 

"But I will miss him.  It makes me sad (crying again)."

I pulled him onto my lap and gave him a hug, all the while looking over his shoulder at Derik -  and we were both thinking, "It is so hard to watch him hurt.  It would be so easy to just go to the store and choose a toy to purchase...but we've come this far.  There is a a great lesson (for all of us) by doing this..."
I told Nathan that it was okay to cry (especially because I was crying at this point too).  Daddy and I understood that this was a great sacrifice for him to make, but that he was making a good decision, and helping another child have a Merry Christmas.  We told him how this toy would make another little boy happy, and that he would be well-loved.   We talked about all the things that they would be able to do together, and reminded him about all the stuffed animals he would still have.

After a few more tears and hugs, I asked Nate if he'd like to say goodbye to his animal before we wrapped him up.  He smiled, and said he'd like that, so Derik and I left the room, but of course stood at the door that was cracked-open to listen in:

"I love you. I'm going to miss you so much (crying again).  Take really good care of that little boy.  He will be so happy to see you.  Make sure to cuddle with him, and laugh with him, and then....punch him! (Giggles to himself)  No, don't punch him.  No punching, okay? No punching.  I love you.  I will miss you (Hugs his toy).  Be good.  Okay.  Now I'm going to put you in this box so we can wrap you up.  'Bye."

Nate helped us wrap the box up, and I was amazed at how he seemed so calm and at peace with his decision.  I decided this was a melting moment that deserved a photo. I never want to forget this moment.  He looks so happy!

We said family prayers, and Nathan asked Heavenly Father to bless the children that don't have toys or clothes. Derik and I told him how proud we were of his decision.  We hugged him for about the millionth time and tucked him in bed.  He told us he wanted to sleep with all of his stuffed animals, so we put all of them on top of him and covered 'everybody' with a blanket.  He giggled and went to sleep with a smile on his face.

Derik and I talked after both boys were in bed.  As hard as it was for Nathan to make this sacrifice, it was incredibly difficult as a parent to stand by and watch him hurt so badly.  It was a good learning experience for each of us, and I know Nate is happy with his decision. 

I'm so grateful for this holiday season.  I'm so very blessed.  I have a beautiful home, a family that I love, and my Savior, Jesus Christ.  It doesn't get much better than that.
Hugs to you all, and Merry Christmas.

**Post note:  I just found out that you can't donate (even barely-used) stuffed animals (which makes sense, now that I think about it!)  And they can't be wrapped (which I figured, but it helped with Nate's closure).  Oops.  Can't go back on it now - I think it would defeat the purpose of the whole lesson.  So, we'll take it, drop it off anyway, and then I'll secretly go purchase a stuffed animal and take it to the donation center.  Happy Christmas! :)

**Post - Post Note: Today (12/12/11) I took Nate with me to Health & Welfare to deliver his toy.  I tried to explain to the case workers what we had done for FHE, and as my pathetic-self would go, I couldn't stop crying.  Nate didn't shed a tear.  He was so sweet about his donation.  Way to go, Nate! I love you and I'm so proud of you!


Sam barrus said...

I'm so proud od nater tater. But im even more proud of u guys for teaching him at a young age that its more important to give rather than to recieve. Nate truly couldnt habe asked for better parents!!

Holly said...

that is the sweetest ever!!! ♥