Used gifts

I watched them through the lens of my camera so I could hide the tears. "Who gives their kids used gifts?" Two of them tore through the paper like semi-rabid animals. One was more delicate, taking off the wrapping paper one strip at a time while her siblings twitched with impatience on the sidelines. The forth one just sat on daddy's lap, drooling on himself, enthralled with the commotion. I knew they were too young to notice that the bat mobile or Doc McStuffins doll had been bought off Craigslist. I knew even if they could tell they wouldn't care. But it still stung my pride. The other used gifts bothered me a bit less. They were more of the heirloom variety.

Peter's football. When Braxton opened that package he also opened up memories of Peter playing catch with his brothers, stories of the Buffalo Bills of the 90's and anticipation of backyard games of catch with his daddy, his uncles, cousins and even Titus when he was big enough.

My first "real" bible: its peach cover and gold lettering creased and faded with time. I found it amusing yet fitting that the color combination was trendy again. Before I gave it to Hayleigh I fingered through the pages smiling at the places eight year old me had scrawled in the margins and crookedly underlined passages with such gusto that I had ripped a line right through the fine pages. I prayed over this gift for the heart and future of my girl, my kindred spirit, that she would find the same life in those pages that I have found (or that has found me) time and time again.

Preparing for Christmas, knowing what we had to offer them that year, I felt simultaneously like the worst and best mom ever. I knew what really mattered, the real meaning of Christmas. I knew we were doing the best we could with what we had. I knew our kids really weren't suffering, but that didn't take away  how much I wanted to give them "good " gifts- shiny new ones that made them squeal with delight as they opened them, ones that would be proud to show off to all their friends.Yet I found peace in knowing in reality we were giving them something more, something that wasn't wrapped up in paper and bows, something never sold in stores.

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