The Gift that Keeps on Giving
I’m just going to start out by assuming that every single one of you listened to the podcast, because, why wouldn't you?! And if you did listen, then you already know that I love to give, buuuttt when it comes to Valentines Day I am all about being the receiver. It is the one day of the year that I can eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and not feel the least bit guilty about it. Let me just tell you that my people did not disappoint. In fact, I still have chocolate just waiting for me to devour it.
As much as I love to receive on Valentines, and let my kids enjoy being spoiled a little too, I also realize that they need to be taught the importance of giving. I want them to grow up loving to give. Whether it be a store bought gift, something homemade (preferably a dessert if it’s headed my way), their time, or maybe just giving someone some support. I want them to understand that the rewards of giving far outweigh the rewards of receiving. So, every year that we are able, we participate in the annual John Street Hooligans Valentines Day Parade. The Jernigans round up a couple of our close friends and family and their kids, we bring their bikes, line them up, and stop at every door on their street with a balloon and a Valentine. Seeing how happy it makes everyone on the street makes it worth the work, for almost everyone. I thought this year would be the perfect year to teach my sweet girl babes about giving. I really thought that at three years old they'd actually start to ‘get it’ and enjoy seeing how happy they were making people. Boy was I wrong.
My first mistake might have been letting them eat chocolate for breakfast. They totally had oatmeal too, just with a side of caramel. Mistake number two was definitely letting them skip their nap. It wasn't my intention. I laid them down, but after almost two hours of talking and giggling I finally let them get up. There would be other kids there, they would be outside and on their bikes so how bad could they really be? Door number one, all of the kids hop off their bikes and race, balloon and valentine in hand, for the door and the winner rings the bell. Imagine there’s five million dollars, a mansion, a trip to Bora Bora, and Range Rover behind door number one. Whoever rings that doorbell takes it all…of course there wasn’t, but you couldn't have told my two three year olds that. They went to pieces because they didn't get to ring the bell. After explaining that everyone would get their turn and herding them back to their bikes we made it to door number two. I bet you can guess what happened here and at door three and four and…well who am I kidding? That’s when I carried two 35lb toddlers, one on each hip, screaming and crying, several blocks back to my mini van. I strapped them into their seats, drove back down to the parade to pick up their bikes and my youngest (who was safely with my sister), and loudly preached the importance of giving all the way back home.
As a parent I beat myself up, as we all do. It was their first Valentines Day as ‘big girls’, and all I wanted was to make it special for them! I swear being a parent is 90% trying to do special things for your kids so they can make you completely miserable, and 10% wishing you had just stayed home. So after crying to my husband for ruining their day, I gave them the best thing I had left... my patience, my time, and my bed. I put them in the bath, and washed the tear stains off their little faces. I let them eat just one more piece of chocolate. I tucked them in my bed, turned on their favorite show, and just snuggled them.
There are so many people who just need a shoulder, an ear, or a few minutes of your time. We also love to donate our clothes to charities or second hand stores in town. There are so many ways to give, and even more people who are in need. Doing something special for someone to make their day better can be just as important as giving in other ways. I wouldn't recommend giving them your screaming child on their doorstep on Valentines Day, but buying someone lunch definitely couldn't hurt. You never know what they might be going through, and you could be exactly what they need in that moment. We might even attempt the Hooligans annual Valentines Day Parade next year, but not without a nap and a stiff drink (for me of course)!