This was originally posted on another blog that existed many blog-millennia ago, in 2004. Rex is all grown up to 7 years old now, but he’s still just as devoted to candy.
On the day before Christmas, the day Rex turned two years old, he and I went out all bundled up to deliver small gifts to our neighbors. Few people were home that morning, so after letting him knock on each door for a while, I’d hand him the small bundle of treats to be left there, and let him place them on the doorstep. The first time he did this, he seemed hesitant to just leave the treats there for absent people— treats that might be greatly enjoyed by a two-year old who was entirely present. Nonetheless, he did as he was asked, stood up, and off we went to the next house. As we rounded the walk from that first house though, he stopped and turned to view the goodies once more and quietly said “Bye-bye tandy.”
This sad scene was played out three more times that morning. At each house, Rex would get a bit sad that these treats were being abandoned, as if to express to me what a good home he’d be willing to give them. And each time, he submitted, surrendering the candy to another impassive doorway. It made me sad that today, his birthday and the day before Christmas, I was forcing him to march around in the cold and give all these delicious treats to other people, and that once we were finished there would be nothing left in our bag for him. But we had to get them all delivered, so we soldiered on through the snow.
Finally, Rex had delivered everything, and our bag was empty. The series of sad farewells had taken a small toll, and I wished I could explain to him the beauty of giving, and how much we get back when we give to others. That wasn’t really a lesson he could understand.
As we walked home, I noticed a crowd in the street ahead of us, surrounding a car stopped in the middle of the road. When we got closer, I could see that the car was a convertible, and it carried a very jolly Santa Claus perched on the back seat as if in a parade. Santa passed out presents to the group of kids gathered around the car, and then drove forward down the street. Another group of people had assembled a few houses down, and Santa pulled up to them just as we did. Rex was excited to see Santa (as long as we kept a good distance from the big red scary guy), and got pretty chatty, talking about him. Santa had presents for all the children of that street, pre-arranged by the parents who had invited him.
When he finished with them, he looked over at us– the strangers on the street, standing and smiling at the display of neighborhood cheer. He reached into his sack and pulled out a little bag tied with ribbon– stuffed with cookies and a big candy cane. He tossed the bag to me and smiled, and then the car drove off to the next house.
Rex took the bag from me and started talking about cookies and candy canes. As soon as we could get it open he got several into his mouth at once. As we walked home, I thought about the nice little lesson that was probably lost on Rex. Still, it meant something to me. After a whole morning of giving that involved no small sacrifice for a two-year old, Christmas delivered on its promise. Santa came, and we received in proportion to what we had given. Maybe someday I’ll tell him this story when he can understand it. But right now, there’s no lesson he understands better than candy canes and cookies from Santa himself.