Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Best Laid Plans -- One Year Later

Last year during Holidailies, I wrote about the night of Hanukah on which we gave Monkey Boy and Peanut some money, and then presented them with a bunch of options where they could donate that money online.

They both ended up donating to an “Adopt a Manatee” program and all was good. They felt good about doing something for another living creature, and MLB and I felt like we had scored one in the category of instilling an appreciation for charity.

Fast forward to this year –

The other night after lighting the Hanukah candles, we presented the kids with some cash and a bunch of printouts (including from “Adopt a Manatee”) with options for this year. What would it be? Sponsoring a “Save the Whales” program? Buying a bunch of chickens for a village in some third world country? Red Cross?

We were surprised by the response: “Do we have to give the money away this year?”

We explained that while we’re by no means rich, they have many things and take for granted things that many people around the world do without. A safe, secure home. Clothes. Food on the table. Toys.

After a bit of reluctance, they finally came around. We had visited the Florida Aquarium last year and the kids decided to donate their money to the aquarium to sponsor the care of marine life. OK, that was on par with last year. Mission accomplished.

An hour or two later as Peanut was preparing for bed, she lamented to me that she didn’t want to give the money away. She’s five so the lesson may be a little tough to get through to her.

I gently explained that she and her brother have so many things. They still had toys they received as presents on their birthdays this summer that still hadn’t been opened. Some children are homeless, hungry – not knowing when or where their next meal will come from. To them, the holidays are no different than any other day because they won’t light menorahs or decorate Christmas trees. They won’t receive presents. Some are so poor that when they get sick, they can't even afford to go to the doctor or to get medicine.

She seemed to contemplate this -- grasping the full meaning of my words.

Then she turned to me with a serious expression and asked:

"I still have toys from my birthday that I haven't opened??"

Guess we'll have to try again next year.

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