Bag o’ Joyful Swag
December 20, 2017
My husband brought a gigantic company-logoed duffel bag home from work the other day. It was presumably a bag o’ swag, as is to be expected at a corporate business office around the holidays, but he didn’t look through the contents ahead of time.
So when he walked in the door and the boys asked about it, he jokingly said, “Here, boys, this is for you. It’s full of CANDY!”
They took it, opened it up, and screamed in delight.
Because, unbeknownst to us, it was ACTUALLY FULL OF CANDY.
Full. of. candy. (Including, but not limited to, a 2ft long bag of cotton candy.)
The contents really shouldn’t be a surprise, seeing as he works in theme parkery, but still.
It was a Christmas miracle.
This morning, when we were loading up for our annual Christmas caroling at the nursing home, Beckett shoved the duffel bag in the car.
I was a little irritated, because a) it takes up a lot of space, seeing as it is The World’s Biggest Duffel Bag and b) I knew the boys would fight over who got to carry it right up until the moment they all got tired and wanted me to drag it around instead.
Being the intuitive mother that I am, I didn’t even ask what he’d refilled the bag with; I funneled my energy instead towards mentally preparing my closing arguments for why I wouldn’t be carrying it at any point or time.
When we pulled up to the home, I said, “Let’s just leave the bag in the car.”
Beckett started to protest.
I began a launch into my rebuttal – to end the argument before it began – when he said, “I really need it to carry all the gifts for our friends.”
I stopped mid car-exit-shuffle. (You know, like the “where’s your other shoe” and “don’t hit their car with our door” shuffle.)
“Wait, what?” I said.
“Well, before we left the house, I gathered up some toys and books that have brought me a lot of joy. I thought I could give some away to our grandma and grandpa friends to bring them joy, too.”
I replied by standing wide-eyed and motionless, unable to process information.
And then, “I’d like to see. Can I take a look?”
Sure enough, inside the bag was an assortment of cars, books, and musical instruments.
(At least I think that’s what was in it. My eyes were underwater with low visibility at this point.)
And so we went into the nursing home, giant bag slung around my tiny hero’s shoulders.
The first hall we caroled down, a resident friend asked us to come sing a special request in her room. When we finished the song and everyone started filing out, I watched as Beckett hung back.
He approached her bed and asked, “Do you want something out of my bag?”
The immature part of me found this to be a hilarious, out-of-context question to a stranger, especially when the lady replied, “What bag? What are you trying to give me?”
But the mom part of me beamed as he pulled out a tamborine and said, “This is something that has brought me joy. I’d like you to have it.”
She smiled and said, “Well, this is just wonderful. I’d like to use it right now. Could we sing Jingle Bells?”
And so we did.
I am in awe of this child. Of his heart, of his thoughtfulness.
I am in awe of a 6 year old’s random offerings tucked inside a gigantic company duffel bag. Children’s toys that a 97 year old has no use for.
Oh, but the beauty in his gift.
It reminds me of all the people in the gospels who gave wholeheartedly – gifts that seemed lacking or out of place to onlookers but that Jesus celebrated and honored.
I am in awe of this child, but I am also in awe of the seeds we plant as parents and as tribes and as church communities.
Because last week, we drew the “Give 3 Toys Away” card on our Advent activity calendar, and I can assure you my boys were not excited. They did not have a cheerful attitude when I told them the 3 broken toys they begrudgingly chose weren’t going to work. They were not thrilled when I told them the gifts we are generous with need to be in good condition, something someone else can find joy in.
The seed of generosity that was tucked away in his heart last week grew into action today.
That’s what we’re doing, as parents.
We are planting seeds of truth in our kids. We are assembling tiny armies of valiant men and strong women. We are raising up warriors of peace and light, boys and girls who love Jesus and fight for hope.
We’ve got to keep planting, even when we don’t see immediate results.
Because that’s what they’re doing, as kids.
They’re tucking those seeds away, where God is quietly growing them into fruit.
And when that fruit is visible, we receive the absolute honor of learning again what childlike faith and joy looks like.
What a gift to be taught by our children. To be a student of the very people you brought in the world.
May these children continue to grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God, going farther than we can ever imagine.
And may this sweet lady enjoy Christmas with her new bug rattle.
She has no idea it’s one of the most thoughtful gifts she’s ever received.