Fred wanted children to know that they are not just receivers but they can be givers, too. In fact, he often talked and sang about the many ways children can express their love. Even though they’re young, they have something of value – a song, a hug or a picture they’ve drawn – to give to the people they love. What a good feeling it is for children, too, when they see how much we appreciate their own expressions of love.
Receiving a Gift from a Child
Giving and receiving are a big part of life. But being a gracious receiver isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s much easier to be a giver than a receiver. Givers are in control. They aren’t being “surprised.” They know what’s inside the gift.
Receiving a child’s gift can sometimes be awkward. We remember a father who wasn’t sure what to do about the gift his son made for him. Rather crude-looking, made of painted popsicle sticks, decorated with bits of colorful yarn, the holder had a piece of paper pasted on it that said, in a childish scrawl, “I love you, Daddy.”
The boy was only five, and his father didn’t feel that he could put this typical piece of 5-year-old workmanship on his desk at the office — which is exactly where his son had said it was meant to go. In fact, it had been hard for that father to know how to respond when he opened this present from his son. What he said was, “What’s this? Something you made? Thanks. It’s really nice.” And then he just left it where he had opened it.
It Seemed Like a Simple Pencil Holder
What we can’t always see in a child’s gift is all that went into making it. In fact, for young children, making something is usually far more important than the product itself.
The father found that out, by accident the next week, when he happened to meet his son’s teacher in a store. The teacher began by telling him how delighted she was finally to meet him, because his son talked about him all the time. She described how industrious his son was. “Like that pencil holder he made for you,” she said. “He worked so long on it…and had such fun with the paint and the paste. I heard him tell the other kids that he was making it for his dad’s office.” Then she added, “He sure put a lot of himself into that gift.”
A Gift of Love
The pencil holder began to take on new dimensions for that father — inner dimensions. In fact, it dawned on him that the gift was more than a place to put pencils. It was a container that held love. How grateful he was that the teacher had talked with him! He assured his son that the pencil holder was going to have a special place right on his desk at the office. “When I’m at work, I’ll be thinking of you and how important you are in my life.”
The gift and the giver are so often closely entwined. Being a gracious receiver and showing appreciation for children’s gifts — and other people’s gifts — is a very special way to show our love for the givers.