The Giving Box

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This week, I challenged Aidan’s sharing abilities. At 3.5 years, I asked him to do something that he had, in the past, not done very successfully.

I asked him to give. A lot.

And to my utmost surprise, he did. I’m so darn proud of him. Like, bumper sticker proud.

When I was a young girl, I wasn’t the best at sharing. During holidays and birthdays, I was known for gathering all my new toys, sitting in a corner, and wrapping my legs around them to make a protective fort.

It goes without saying that my cousins and siblings didn’t exactly look forward to “playing” with me during these occasions. Thankfully, as I aged I figured out the whole sharing is caring idea, and with that came more friends.

Sometimes, I worry that Aidan – as an only child – will have a difficult time grasping this concept. I’ve tried a few approaches to bring to light the importance of giving. I’ve asked him to set aside toys his friends can play with during playdates. I’ve asked him to let me play with his favourite toys during our living room adventures.

I’ve even asked my husband to buy me more presents, so that his son can see that other people get presents and share with one another.

That latter idea hasn’t caught on quite as well as I would have liked.

In any case, this Christmas my husband and I decided to begin a new tradition. We had previously spoken about using the holiday as an opportunity to teach Aidan about the value of donation. To get Aidan onboard (and excited about the idea), I decided to have a bit of fun with it…

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May I present “the giving box”, delivered by Santa’s elves, with the strict requirement that in order to get, one must give.

This was an amazingly fun project to work on. I wanted to be able to send the box straight to a donation centre. But for the actual sign, I decided I wanted to make something special, to be used every year. I made it using a simple canvas, some felt paper, glitter paper, a few other festive bits here and there, and of course, the magical hot glue gun to stick everything together.

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Once the sign was ready, I grabbed an old cardboard box, wrapped it using a large table cloth (made of thick red paper), threw on some glitter spray, and secured it with a simple bow.

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On went the sign, and viola, one giving box ready for a magical delivery to the Smith household.

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The morning the box found its way under the Christmas tree, Aidan immediately ran towards it. Upon opening it, a bewildered expression quickly replaced his wide-eyed “I-have-a-present!” look.

“But, it’s empty”, he said in confusion, turning to us for guidance.

We had anticipated this. Luckily, Santa had left a very special message on my phone (thanks Uncle Eric) reminding Aidan that “many kids do not have toys of their own.” Mr. Kringle ended the message with a special request, that Aidan “fill the box with all the toys that other kids can play with this Christmas season.”

After we played this message for Aidan, my husband and I nervously watched him to see how he would react.

What happened next was unprecedented.  A new expression, one I had never seen before, spread across his face.

For the next 30 minutes, Aidan went through all his toys and books. At times, he would say “no, this is for Aidan.” But more often than expected, he would grab a perfectly usable toy, say to us “this is for the children,” and then place it inside the box.

Aidan filled the box. Completely. Nemo, Micky Mouse books, puzzles and more.

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Talk about a touching moment.

The box will be delivered this week to the local refugee centre, where I’m hopeful the toys will serve as Christmas presents to children who are in need.

Aidan has more than earned his keep this holiday. I’m particularly thrilled this season because it’s the first that I believe he’ll remember. I want it to be special.

As a reward for him donating so many toys, not only has Santa confirmed Aidan’s on the good list (meaning he’ll likely get the large tractor trailer he’s been asking for), but the Elves will also be sending back a box to Aidan, this time, on Christmas Eve…

IMG_6436For details on this one, tune in early next week. Lot’s to get done, but I’m hoping to squeeze in one last post before Christmas. Till then!

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