"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Thursday, November 29, 2012

thanks and giving


The day before Thanksgiving, Max and Evan set up Thanksgiving feasts for their buddies:

It's a Feast at the Clubhouse!

Ninjaaaaaa-GO! It's Turkey Time!
Thanksgiving morning, Molly danced to Colbie Calliat during the Macy's Day Parade.

And, on what was an unseasonably warm day in late November at Grandmother and Grandpop's house, we played in the leaves.

....and posed sweetly for pictures.

Before we ate, we wrote our Thanks on Grandmother's Thanksgiving wreath. My thanks, of course, were three-fold: Evan, Max, and Molly. There are others, naturally...including, but not limited to the fact that Good Decisions Were Made in November by the majority of my fellow Americans. 

(But there's no room for politics at Thanksgiving.)

Max (whose leaf is pictured below, on the right) is thankful for "Mommy." [Heart. Melting.] Evan is thankful, as you might be able to see, for "Ninjago." [He's growing up too fast. He, too, was once thankful for Mommy. Sigh.]

After we ate, and enjoyed time with family...and then ate some more and enjoyed even more time with even more family. We wrapped up our weekend with a visit with friends on our way back home.

The babies evaluated each other.

And the lunch table overflowed with cuteness.

And I was thankful for the strength and the bond of True Friendship...where time and distance and life changes don't take away from the relationship...but add to it. Where the months between visits disappear the moment you're in each other's company once again. Where the kids play like siblings, not because of time spent together, but because of a level of comfort felt. 
And where the husbands are as happy to hang out together as we are.

We love you guys.

And Giving...

The boys, particularly Evan, but Me-Too Max, too, are getting to the age where we want to make Charity a regular part of our lives. Generosity for generosity's sake. Yes, it's nice to be thankful for what you have and mindful of the needs of others at this time of year, but really, we want Giving (and volunteering, supporting local business, etc.) to be a regular and natural thing we do. Because we can. And we should.

And so, even though it seemed to come at a Giving time of the year, we wanted to make a Teachable Moment out of Superstorm Sandy, and the devastation that was left in its wake.  We were affected by the storm, minimally, but the boys knew about it as it was happening. Immediately following the storm, we went to New Jersey for my Grandpop's funeral. The boys saw, firsthand, some of the more damaging effects of Sandy. They saw downed trees, gas lines, and storm-strewn debris. They heard my relatives talking about days and days and days with no power. They heard about the people, unluckier than my relatives, who had lost their homes and everything in them.

And when we got home, it was my birthday. I was given some money by my parents and also my grandmother who instructed, "Be frivolous. TREAT yourself!" And I did. I freshened up my fall wardrobe and felt perfectly treated. When my new clothes arrived (because I do all of my shopping online...), I made a big, gushing show of my loot. I donned my new cardigan and twirled in the kitchen saying, "What a lucky Birthday Girl I am!"

Then, I became serious. I looked at alllllll of my new clothes and I did some thinking aloud....loud enough for the boys, seated at the counter, to hear: "Hmmmm. Now I have all the clothes I need. In fact, I can't think of ANY thing else that I need to buy right now. But I have some money left over from my Birthday money. Hmmmmm......"



"I know!" I said, as if it had just occurred to me. "I should donate some of my money to the Red Cross! They're helping the people who lost their clothes and houses and toys in Hurricane Sandy!"

Evan was very quiet. Listening. And then he hopped off his stool. "I'll be right back!" he shouted as he bounded up the stairs. And when he returned, he was holding his wallet. He carefully selected some of his dollars (all of which have holiday stickers on them from his Great Mom Mom, who sends him a crisp $1-bill every holiday and birthday) and handed them to me: "Mommy, these are MY extra dollars. You should send these to the Red Cross, too."

My heart swelled with pride. And we poured it on pretty thick. "Evan! What a kind and caring, Big Boy thing to do! This is really going to make a difference for those people in New Jersey who have been so sad since the storm. Doesn't it feel good to help others?" We talked it up. We won't over-praise forever. But they're still learning about generosity. Someday, there won't be any congratulating when they drop a buck in the Salvation Army bucket because they'll know that donating, helping, giving, volunteering is just What We Do. But we're still in the days (years?) where we high-five when they eat all of their Healthy Bites at dinner or wipe their own noses. So we celebrated the good choice.

While the praising was going on, Max was very quiet. Listening.  And then he hopped off his stool. "I'll be right back!" he shouted as he fast-as-he-could made his way up the stairs. And when he returned, he was holding his wallet. He climbed back up on his stool and laid each and every one of his dollars out on the counter. As he lined them up, perfectly straight and facing the same direction, I started to get teary. My little boy. Just three-years old. And GIVING is already coming so naturally to him.

"All these dollars here?" he started, "They're all mine. Just for me."


"Max!" said Evan, "You should give some of them away to the Red Cross!"

"No, it's okay," I reassured them both. "Donating some of your money is a very Grown Up Decision that you made today, Evan, and we're really proud of you. Max is still learning about donating, though. Maybe he'll choose to help others in a different way, or when he's older."

"When I'm older, all these dollars are still going to be just mine and for me."

Oh, my Maxwell.


When I originally sat down to write this post, several days ago, this was the end of the story. And it was a good one. A funny, true, glimpse into our lives. It was sort of perfect in how it sums up my two yin and yang boys at this moment in their lives and at these stages of their development.  But then, yesterday, Max came up to me with three dollar bills crumpled up in his hand. We hadn't talked about Donation or the Red Cross in over a week. "I'm ready to make a Grown Up Choice about my dollars," he said. I gave him a hug and told him how proud I was of him. And man, you should have seen the look on his face when Sam got home and he got to tell Daddy of his Grown Up Choice.

What a kid.

Lesson Learned:
And now, on to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

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