There I was, running through the Great Mall of Milpitas and the clock was ticking. Just 4 days before Christmas and I was in hot pursuit of the Ultimate Gift! You know how every year the news media declares one toy as the hottest and the hardest to find, creating mass panic for shoppers everywhere? Cabbage Patch Kids. Beanie Babies. Tickle Me Elmo. They all paled in comparison to the ultimate gift I was chasing in December of 1993 – the Red Power Ranger action figure!
I had wasted two weeks running around to every mall in Northern California. I had Grandparents stationed at the back doors of Wal-Mart stores in the midwest. I spent every night calling classified ads listing 10 times the retail price, but each time I was just a little too late. I realized I was about to disappoint my 4-year old son Evan.
I tried to break the news gently. We sat down in front of a crackling fireplace, with the smell of warm sugar cookies in the air.
“Hey buddy… you know how you asked for a Red Power Ranger for Christmas?”
“Uh huh, I want it more than ANYTHING!”
“Well, Daddy and Mommy have been searching all over, and so many kids want power rangers, the stores have run out. Even Santa’s elves can’t make enough.”
He just stared at me.
“Evan, what I’m trying to say is… you probably WON’T get a Power Ranger in time for Christmas.”
He slowly looked over at the fire, and I fully expected him to start crying. Instead he turned back to me and said “That’s OK, Daddy, we’ll just make our own.” And then he ran upstairs…without even grabbing a cookie!
I looked at my wife Carol, “Oh Lord the boy’s so upset, he’s lost it! You can’t just ‘MAKE’ a Power Ranger!!”
He came running downstairs 5 minutes later with a handful of markers and some white posterboard. He said, “Sit down Daddy. You draw the power rangers and I’ll color ‘em in!”
I had to admire his spirit! I drew all 5 Power Rangers in karate action poses, and he carefully colored them in – red, black, blue, yellow and pink. I cut out each one with a little base so it would stand up on its own. The whole project took just 30 minutes, and we made an entire set of Power Rangers… together.
He scooped them up, and started playing with them right away. No trace of disappointment at all. Lesson from a four year old – my time was worth more than any gift from a store.
Fast forward 15 years and Evan was going off to college. I was cleaning out his bedroom closet when I found the blue plastic tub filled with Power Ranger toys. Oh yes, he eventually got the whole set – quick change rangers with rotating torso, karate chop action and matching megazords!
But there in the middle of the tub were the 5 “posterboard” rangers that we made together. He never threw them away. It reminded me of the lesson he taught me about how I prioritized my time 15 years ago.
I believe you have more ways to give your time than you may realize… your knowledge, your experience, a shoulder to cry on. In the next couple of weeks, your moment of truth will come. Someone will ask for 30 minutes of you. Will you be able to set aside your search for the Red Ranger and spend time with that person who needs you?
YOUR time is worth so much more than any gift from a store.
(This post is an excerpt from a speech I originally presented in the 2009 Toastmasters international speech contest. I’m just resurrecting it here in time for Christmas.)
I hear ya cuz, but I am just too busy to comment right now! (tee-hee)
Very funny Shelley 🙂 That’s exactly why I sent this now.
I love Shelley’s post! LOL!
That was a great short, Dave. I am looking forward to my thirty minutes, as I know that you are right – it will come.
Inevitably, so many more people will sit there are not ask for that thirty minutes than will ask. The additional task before us is to recognize those in need that we can help by spending a little time. People are so conditioned not to ask due to potential embarrassment or overexposure to peers. It’s like we all carry the automatic frontal facade that all is well, and that we are good to go, when we really could use a little human interaction.
I suppose that your event with Evan is a great example of assuming the coming conflict that wasn’t necessary. I guess YOU were the one who needed to talk! Evan was okay from the start. I believe that some of this involves raising a child and exposing him to good examples of fatherhood and humanity. He was apparently quite secure not to have the real power ranger in hand, and simply worked it out.
…man, we could all take a good hard look at that one and learn something.
Reminds me of when my youngest daughter, Megan received something from a gift giver many Christmases ago, and her older sister, Katie, showed how much she had wanted the thing – that color or that style – I can’t remember what it was anymore. Megan thought about it for a minute or two… then said, “Here Katie, you can have it.”
…and never looked back. I couldn’t believe my eyes! It wasn’t, “…now what are you going to give me?” or anything like that. She simply gave it. It was more important to her that Katie had deep feelings about having it. Megan simply gave it up, and appeared quite satisfied to do so.
Now, what went on in the mind of a four yearold? That was how old Megan was at the time. Probably something similar to a young man named Evan, who was just as happy making paper Power Rangers with his dad than having the “real thing!”
…Megan gave a gift to Katie, and Evan gave a gift to YOU!
Happy Holidays, Dave, to you and yours. Tell them all I said Hi!
Roland and Fam.
That’s a sweet story Roland, thanks. There’s nothing like seeing your kids show humanity and generosity toward others.
Man – I knew that sounded like a contest speech. Love it!
Thanks Rich. This was part of my speech that won 2nd place at District 39 last year. The most rewarding part to me were the people who came up afterwards and said “I needed to hear that today.”
Oh dear, still too busy, catch ya after Christmas cuz! :)S Ok, maybe I have a minute. I told Rayne your story yesterday and she immediately went for the yea, you need to spend time with me. So, I broke from my frenzy and played UNO attack and listened to Rayne tell me I am too old to put “LOL” in my text. Small things mean so much.
You’re never too old for LOL. Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing with Rayne 😉 I went to see Avatar last night with Amanda and it was a cool experience.
David, thanks for sharing this wonderful short story and for reminding us what Christmas is really all about. Sounds like you raised your kids with good values because it’s moments like this that changes life. Good read and Happy Holidays to you and your family.