Oh, you make me smile

It seems the older I get the more I wonder about the meaning of life. Perhaps more specifically, I wonder what it is I am here to accomplish.

Do you ever think about that?

Of course, I have my job – filling the minds of our readers with information, sometimes providing entertainment and – on the rare occasion – evoking a reaction. But outside of work, am I doing anything worthwhile? Mostly, I think no matter what I do, I could be – should be – doing more.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the church pew and reading through the bulletin when I came across a short paragraph about Operation Christmas Child. Oh sure, I’d heard of it before, but in all my nearly 40 years, I’d never bothered to actually volunteer to take and fill a box.

In nearly four decades, I’ve never once walked up to a giving tree at Christmas, plucked a name from its branch and filled a box full of items for a child in need.

I’ve had good intentions to do so, but when it came down to it, I always found an excuse or two.

“That’s for someone else – someone who doesn’t have a boatload of nieces and nephews to buy Christmas presents for, or someone who makes more money than I do,” I’d say to myself as I walked on by.

But this time, this year, I wasn’t going to listen to those excuses rolling through my brain. I want to put a smile on a child’s face this Christmas. It’s been kind of a rough year for me – it’s been a rough month for me. Putting a smile on a child’s face – I can do that.

I drove to the store late this afternoon with my Operation Christmas Child shoebox and a brochure that outlined my options. Naturally, I waited until the last moment to do my shopping – the box is due at church in the morning.

Anyway, I could shop for a boy or a girl, ages 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. Having much experience shopping for nieces and nephews, I steered clear of the boy ages 10-14 category – the toughest of all categories to shop for.

With just an hour and a half free in my Saturday schedule, I opted for what I thought was the easiest – girl, ages 2-4.  I was pretty confident I could find something to put a smile on a little girl’s face on Christmas morning.

At least that was until I started walking through the departments – toys, clothes, books and hygiene. The options were endless, the choices were difficult and when I had a collection of items for my box, I worried that either I wouldn’t have enough to make the box look full, or that the doll I picked out would take up too much space.

The box is sitting on the desk by my keyboard as I write this, and the bag of items is still on the dining room table – I’ll learn soon enough if my shopping skills were adequate.

Now, I think perhaps I should have given a bit more thought to one of the items I purchased. I have no idea where these gifts end up, but my 2-, 3- or 4-year-old girl is going to get a pair of mittens she may have absolutely no use for. (I’ve had the chills all day, which I’m sure impacted my decision on the pretty little pink knitted pair.)

As for the rest of the items, I hope she’ll be happy with a pack of pink and purple socks, a doll dressed in pink and blue, a pink Dora toothbrush (all little girls MUST have pink!) and a Berenstain Bears book – a favorite series of mine as a child. I’m hoping she’ll have a parent who can read it to her over and over again.

I haven’t decided if I’ll include a note in the box – it’s optional. I’m happy just knowing it will make a little girl smile – or at least thinking it will make a little girl smile. That’s good enough for me.

I know it isn’t much. I could have – should have – done more, but it’s a good first step. And best of all, it made me feel good. That’s the most wonderful thing about the Christmas season!

3 thoughts on “Oh, you make me smile

  1. Julie,
    What a great way to celebrate this holiday season! I can picture that little girl already with a smile from ear to ear! I think we all have those thought of could have, should have, but kudos to you for taking that first step. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
    Mary

  2. “I steered clear of the boy ages 10-14 category – the toughest of all categories to shop for.”

    I find that category, by far, the easiest to buy for. I have 4 boys, ages 7, 11, 12 and 14 and a 16 year old daughter. My daughter is always the hardest. Gift cards aren’t great gifts for your own children in my opinion, and that seems to be what she wants the most. But 15-over girls wasn’t one of your categories. :)

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