My sixteen year old daughter gave up receiving "under the tree gifts" from us so that she could donate her Christmas money to Pediatric AIDS in Africa.
"Mom, I can't think of anything I need. Can you give my money to those who really do need it?"
Can't think of anything she needs? What sixteen year old girl says that!?
So we did make that donation for her.
And then, last week, I stumbled upon a skirt she had wanted but was never able to purchase for herself. I decided that we could give back to her. So I bought it, wrapped it, saved it to the end of the morning of gifts.
When she opened the little box holding the donation receipt, she smiled. I could tell that the morning of Christmas, her generosity became a real sacrifice. She sat in the middle of iPod insanity - all manner of accessories to go with old and new iPods for the boys, CDs, iTunes gift cards and more. She gave that up for Christmas.
After nearly all the gifts were opened, I brought out the box that held her skirt. She tore off the paper, dug through the styrofoam peanuts and burst into tears. So unexpected, so exactly what she wanted. She threw her arms around me saying, "Thank you, thank you so much. I really wanted this skirt." All that pent up emotion of sacrifice released on this very small gift. One skirt in relief against Apple-mania.
That's one of those moments I'll never forget. That small gift meant more to her when she had given something of value away.
Later that night she told me that a little conversation we had, had sparked the idea. I have a professor who met Bono when Bono traveled through the midwest a couple years ago. On that trip, Bono met with local leaders to drum up support for the campaign to end AIDS in Africa. My professor is one of the big wigs who works internationally on those very kinds of issues. In sharing about his meeting with Bono, my professor said that while he admired Bono's efforts and breadth of knowledge in this field, he didn't think Bono could have much impact on every day Americans. Sure, Bono could get them to sign petitions, but would we middle class Americans sustain our attention on an issue so important, yet so remote from us? Can fans be turned to activists?
My daughter, hearing that conversation, said she realized right then that she was one who was moved by Bono's commitment yet had done nothing herself. She wanted to prove my professor wrong. So she decided to give up Christmas.
I admire her. I want to be like her. What a gift she was to me on Christmas.