Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In The Spirit of Giving

Last weekend I was reminded about a book everyone loves. I think I’m the only one who didn’t instantly love this book.

It started when for some unexplained reason, my kids decided to do a major purging of possessions. It could have been prompted by some noise I made about redoing their rooms if only I could enter them without tripping and breaking my neck. I was expecting their charitable offerings to be the usual couple of bags of outgrown clothes and toys. Instead, they shoved box after box into the hallway as if the items were crawling with bugs. They were finally ready to let go of everything they hadn’t played with in years.

In the upheaval, a book surfaced that I hadn’t looked at since my kids were very young – The Quiltmaker’s Gift. In this award-winning book, a greedy king is persuaded to give away every last one of his earthly possessions as he learns the value of a gracious heart. When I first read it I had some trouble warming up to it, and here’s why: It made my baby cry. Not cry in a “wasn’t that sweet” sort of way, but bawl in a “my spirit is completely crushed” sort of way.

When I asked my then four year old what was wrong, he choked between sobs, “but you have to have at least ONE toy!” I thought he had a point.

I agree it’s a gorgeous book with a great sentiment, and I believe in the philosophy of the story. I think my kids’ willingness to donate is a good indication that they’ve grown up believing in it, too. I just had to agree with my son that giving to the point of being destitute is over-reaching a little bit. I was surprised to have to explain to my kids that being generous doesn’t mean you should deny yourself basic comforts.

Now when I saw the book on the table, I asked my son if it was one of the items he planned to donate.

“No,” he said. “I was just reading it.”

I asked him if reading it was what prompted him to clean out his room.

He said, “Nah. I gave the stuff away before I found the book.”

If he’s willing to give it another chance, I guess I am, too.


Anonymous said...

It's an amazing story!!!
I love the way your son's point was beneficial even for the BOOK ITSELF! If he had taken the book's advice to the letter, it would be resting at the bottom of the goodwill bin, waiting to see the end of its days by balancing a short-legged table somewhere in a college dorm. By taking the book's advice with a grain of salt, it gave us all the opportunity to see the true wisdom in the book, clarified through a boy's mind: "Giving should be a joyful experience. Thou shall not suffer while spreading the goodies". I just love this posting.

Rena said...

What a great post! Your son sounds like an awesome kid. That's great that he was willing to read the book again, as well as share with others. :)

Carrie Harris said...

That sure is amazing. I've been talking to my son about giving some things away, and his first response is to ask what new toys he'll get after he does that. So we're working on it. :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

That's so cool! And a real testimony about how you're raising your kids and the values you're instilling in them. And any kid who can't part with books is going to turn out FINE!

C.R. Evers said...

awwwww! This post tugged at my heart! You're son sounds like he has a naturally sensitive and generous heart. What a sweetie!


adrienne said...

Anonymous - Agreed! A think a few treasures are okay...

Christy - Thanks! I think they're both pretty cool kids ;)

Carrie - It's hard when they're little & I tried not to push the issue. My son always liked being personally ivolved - like delivering the stuff to the Salvation Army himself.

Green Girl - I know what you mean - I'm the one who can't part with a book!

Cello said...

Awesome post! Terrific story indeed. I myself am a very young writer and illustrator who just Published his first Children's Storybook entitled 'Karate Cat'. I thought with your talent you could swing by my site and check out my book =). It just got listed on Amazon so I am really excited about it. I hope to hear from you.