Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Hero's 5th Birthday Party

Why would my five year old daughter be my hero, you might ask? Simple. She's generous...possibly the most generous person I know - at least in proportion to what she has. For Brynn's fifth birthday party, I told her she would be allowed to invite five friends. It quickly became clear that she could not narrow her long list of friends down to only five. So I gave her a choice: invite five friends and keep the gifts they bring you or invite as many as you want and ask your guests to bring gifts for Operation Christmas Child instead of bringing them for you. I can imagine that some of you reading this would look at those choices and say something like, "That's not really fair - she's a five year old kid. You can't expect her not to want birthday presents."

I don't expect her not to want gifts - we're Americans. It's nearly impossible to escape the desire to have more in a culture like ours. But, I thought it was a fair choice. Apparently Brynn thought it was fair, also, and without pause she took the second option - to invite as many friends as she wanted and to ask them to bring gifts for kids in impoverished countries instead of gifts for herself. The reality of it is that Brynn will still be getting plenty of gifts - gifts from mom and dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles. She'll have more gifts than she knows what to do with by the time her birthday is over. Still, her courage and generosity make me glow with pride.

This morning at 11am, ten kids with bags full of toys for Operation Christmas Child showed up in our garage. I gave them each a white shoebox-sized box to decorate. We had paint, we had glitter, we had sequins, foam Christmas stickers, bows, you name it. The kids painted, glued, and glittered the rest of the morning and when their boxes were dry they filled the boxes with the gifts they had brought. There were toothbrushes, hair bands, puzzles, hot wheels, candy, soap, markers, coloring books, and much more. We finished each box off with a photo of the kid who had decorated and filled it and then we took the boxes to a local church. The church put our boxes into a huge cardboard box and will send it up to the distribution center in Denver. From there our thirteen boxes will make their way to another country (probably Mexico) where they will be distributed to kids who would probably not get Christmas presents if it weren't for Operation Christmas Child.

Before leaving the church, Brynn and I knelt down next to her boxes and prayed over them - that God would bless the recipients, that Brynn's friends who packed the boxes would be touched in a special way by this experience. I thanked God for Brynn's generous spirit and willingness to give in this special way on what most people would call "her special day." I was in tears, Brynn was beaming. She was beaming all day long. She glowed while she decorated her box, while she ate her lunch, while her friends sang to her, while she filled her box for some special girl somewhere far away. After her friends left she told me that this was her "best birthday ever."

Is it just her childish innocence? Is it inevitable that Brynn will grow into the greediness that permeates our culture and Western Society as a whole? Maybe...maybe I can't raise her to be in the world but not of the world. Or maybe I can. Maybe she can be different. Maybe God's special plan for this sweet child is to stay sweet, to stay generous, to be willing to give of herself for the good of others. Maybe it's just my Pollyanna-like hopefulness showing through, but you can bet that after this experience I will not give up.

For more photos, visit our photo album.

1 comment:

nick said...

Hill, amazing idea...I got a little teary. Can't wait to apply some your great parenting ideas once we make the leap.

Hope all is well!