I decided to start a new Christmas tradition this year... a tradition of giving to the less fortunate. I wanted to give Bennett a little perspective in the midst of all the toys, goodies and train rides. I wanted him to realize how very blessed he is. I wanted to him to understand what it means to have a giving heart.
So last week, Bennett and I collected some of his toys. I explained that we were going to give some of our toys to little boys and girls who didn't have any. His first response was, "not my dinosaurs, right Mama?" I told him that he could keep his dinosaurs and encouraged him to find some other toys that we could give to "the boys and girls." At first he was hesitant, but after we found a few toys to give, he began to get more excited about it. He even took a few of his cars, (his most prized possessions) and cheerfully put them in the donation bag.
A few days later, McPreachy and I piled the kiddos in the car and drove to the Orange County Rescue Mission to drop off the toys. When we arrived, we let Bennett carry the toys to the donation drop-off and turn them in himself. He was very proud.
Then, as we were driving away, Bennett asked, "Why don't those boys and girls have toys, Mama?"
"Well, because they don't have any money to buy them, buddy," I answered.
"So what do they have in their house?" This was his way of verbalizing the fact that he couldn't comprehend a house that didn't have toys in it. I decided to take this opportunity to open his eyes to the world around him, sad as it may sometimes be. I know he's young, and it's a lot of information for a 3-year-old to digest. But Bennett is an "old soul," and I knew he could handle it. Besides, this was one of the reasons we were giving our toys away... to teach Bennett empathy.
So I said, "You know what, bud? Some people don't even have houses. They have to sleep on the street."
His first response to this world-rocking information was denial. "Mama," he said with a chuckle. "They don't sleep on the street."
"Yes, Bennett," I said in a gentle voice. "They do sleep on the street. Isn't that sad?"
He nodded, his eyes wide. "Do they have blankets?" he asked.
"No, buddy. Some people don't even have blankets or pillows or beds or food." I answered. "That's why we need to help them. That's why we are giving them our toys."
"Do they have drinks?" he asked, as if it was unfathomable that they might not... as if this was the final straw.
"No sweetie, not even drinks."
He was silent for a moment. And then he asked me, "Mama, can Jesus go buy blankets and pillows and binkys and food and drinks for all the boys and girls and give it to them? Then they will be happy and not have to sleep on the street?"
But I didn't answer him. Because I was so overcome with emotion that I couldn't speak. The empathetic, giving heart that I saw my son express just overwhelmed me. As I sat quietly in the front seat weeping, my sweet husband took over for me, answering Bennett's questions and affirming him.
I cannot remember a time in my life that I have felt prouder than listening to my sweet, precious boy trying desperately to figure out a way for all the children in the world to have blankets and pillows and binkys and food. And drinks.