For a good part of this past year I’ve been grumbling that I need reading glasses, and not actually doing anything about it. It usually slips my mind until the kids’ bedtime, when I read a chapter aloud from the Bible and find myself holding the book at arm’s length to focus on the tiny words. Or when I’m trying to read the microscopic list of ingredients on some container. It’s typical middle-age presbyopia; there’s no problem unless I’m trying to read fine print. Anyway, for some reason I just kept whinging about needing the glasses and never got around to buying them.
Elizabeth bought them for me. With her own money.
And to appreciate the significance of that, you have to understand that my sweet girl is, let us say, Not A Financially Generous Person. To my knowledge she has never spent her own personal money on anyone but herself before. This is a kid who can spot a penny on the ground fifty feet away, and will stop what she’s doing to go and pick it up. A kid who loves the annual Christmas Gift Shop at her school because it offers lots of inexpensive shinies for her to buy — for herself. True story: last year both kids ended up getting a lot of cash for Christmas from various relatives. We went on a shopping trip and Elizabeth had soon frittered away all her money on useless shiny objects. Luke, who had received everything he’d asked for for Christmas, came home without spending a dime; he just hadn’t seen anything that he wanted. And within a few days Elizabeth had wheedled him into spending all of HIS Christmas money on stuff for HER via Amazon.com.
Another true story: last week when we went to Riverside, I was feeling very budget-conscious because of all the money I’d spent on Christmas, so I packed a lunch for us to eat at the park and I told everyone to eat a good breakfast because I didn’t want to end up having to buy any food in the pricey Mission Inn area. Apparently both kids were having an off morning, because Luke neglected to eat any breakfast at all and Elizabeth neglected to put our lunch into the car (the one task I’d assigned to her). I was pretty exasperated when I found out, and not just with them. I realized that I’d fallen into a pattern of picking up the slack in these kinds of situations, rescuing Luke and Elizabeth from the consequences of their carelessness, smoothing things over, so they’d had no motivation to improve. Even then my impulse was to say, “It’s okay, we can get lunch at that sandwich place near the Inn.” Which we could, but that place is freaking expensive like all the other places to get decent food near the Inn, and I really and truly could not afford to drop thirty dollars on lunch that day. So what I said was, “We can go to that sandwich place near the Inn, and anyone who wants to eat can pay for their own food.” They both had this year’s Christmas money, so I don’t think I was being unreasonable. I paid for my lunch, Luke paid for his lunch, and Elizabeth….
Well, Elizabeth bought herself a cookie, because she could not bear the thought of spending her precious dollars on anything as mundane and transitory as food. (She had the last laugh though, because Luke’s lunch was too big for him to finish. She helpfully polished it off for him.)
This is not a girl who is lavishly charitable with her money, is what I’m saying.
But she went into an actual grownup store and spent a fair chunk of her beloved lucre on a lovely pair of reading glasses for me, so that I would have something in my stocking on Christmas morning. (And probably also so she wouldn’t have to keep listening to me grumbling about needing them, but still.)
This is one of the things I like best about Christmas: the way it inspires people to show their love in ways they normally might not. The happy surprises.
Happy Love Thursday, All. Here’s to the moments that help us see our loved ones…a little more clearly.