As the headline would indicate, my almost three year old did in fact make me well up during our trip to Sam's Club yesterday. Let's be perfectly clear here, kids can make you cry every time you attempt to bring them out in public, am I right? But that's typically because they're not listening or they won't stop nagging you for something in the store that they want. However, yesterday was a sweet cry, not a frustrated one.

I had to run to the store for the essentials yesterday because we had run out of dryer sheets and paper plates- and this family doesn't function without dryer sheets or paper plates. So to ease the stress on my wife who is currently working from home, I decided to take Gavin with me to the store and leave her with the baby. We piled into the car and headed for town.

After we got to the store and got our masks on, we headed inside to do our shopping. Naturally, because it's Sam's Club, we went in for two items but came out with 25. After the associate at the door had checked out receipt comparing the items on it to what was in the cart, we were on our way. As we headed out the exit door I heard that familiar holiday sound. It was a Salvation Army bell ringer with the Red Kettle campaign.

If there's one thing I always try to instill in people this time of the year it's that you should never walk by a red kettle without putting something inside. Even if it's just a quarter, every little bit helps. Seizing this opportunity as a 'teachable moment' for Gavin I stopped, reached into my wallet and pulled out some bills. I knelt down and handed them to Gavin and explained that the 'red bucket' was to collect money to help other families for Christmastime. Though I don't think he understood the full gravity of it all, he definitely understood that we needed to put some money in the kettle in order to 'help'.

Up until this point I was doing just overwhelming urge to cry or anything. That was until I watched my almost 3-year-old cautiously walk up to the kettle with his little red Spider-Man mask on and reach his little hand up to the man tending the kettle. Gavin then tried to put the cash inside the slot but it wasn't folded enough so I went up and helped him crease it one more time so he could slide it in. After he did, the man said "God bless you & Merry Christmas" to Gavin, and that's when the tears started.

It was such a simple thing in the grand scheme of things, but those 20 seconds of watching my son begin to learn what it means to 'give back' was such a moving experience. The same thing happened to me at Camp Out Hunger this year when Keri brought all three boys to make a food donation. What can I say? I'm a freakin' sap!

As a dad, I don't think there's any greater lesson I could ever teach my boys than to always be willing to give back to the world. It's so easy for us to take for granted everything we have in life while simultaneously assuming that those that don't have enough have somehow brought it on themselves and aren't worthy of our help. There will be times for all of us when life hands us lemons, and it's those around us in our communities that will be there to help us back up.


James Christmas Tree 2020

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