During this time of year and the uncertainty of the financial instability, I want to share a story with you.
In 1987, my first husband and I were living in Arkansas and having a difficult time making ends meet. To heat our home, we had a wood burning stove which was often used to cook our meals. We could only afford $50.00 every other month to fill our propane tank and since the hotwater heater also ran on propane, if we ran out, I would use my electric coffee pot to heat water to give my children a bath in the kitchen sink.
Just so happened a couple weeks before Christmas we couldn't afford propane and Christmas presents for the kids so we prioritized... naturally gifts for our daughter and two boys trumped. But what would $50.00 buy? The kids had been asking for bikes and since we couldn't afford new ones I went to a used bike store and gave the owner 50% of the cost to put the bikes on hold for me until I could make enough money to give him the rest. My daughter's bike was $15.00 and my oldest boys bike was $10.00.
I worried how I was going to take these bikes from a neglected state to looking somewhat worthy of my children's delight on Christmas morning? I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a can of blue spray paint and a can of pink, a basket for the "girl" bike and a new seat for the "boy" bike. Meanwhile as the bikes were safely tucked in the owners back room and while still wondering how we were going to pull off tricking the kids into thinking they were getting new bikes "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" came on TV. The kids were entranced.
When the movie was over, my daughter said that if she ever got a "misfit" toy, she would take care of it and love it forever. The boys agreed as they expressed anguish over the toys that nobody wanted on "Misfit Island".
After chopping firewood for what few customers we had, my husband and I finally scraped up enough money to get the bikes. We brought them home, got them washed, spray painted and put all the "Bells and Whistles" on, one day before Christmas Eve. We hid them in the shop, proud of ourselves that our kids were going to get what they wanted for Christmas! By this time, I'm sure you are wondering where is the youngest boys bike? Well we had bought him a tricycle on sale a couple months earlier that was safely tucked away under a tarp in the shop.
Christmas morning, my daughter came into our bedroom crying and said,"Santa brought us used bikes". My husband and I looked at each other with tears and only a feeling that a parent gets when they know they have let their children down. What could we have been thinking? :(
Trying real hard to come up with an explanation, the "Ah Ha" moment came between getting out of bed and walking to the living room. These bikes would be from "Misfit Island"!
We sat the kids down and reminded them of the movie and the words they said that if Santa ever brought them a misfit toy that they would love it and take care of it forever! Sadness quickly turned to pure DELIGHT on their faces and GRATITUDE replaced hopelessness in their hearts. The kids quickly adopted, named and deftly took care of their misfit bikes like they were "their" children! There would be other trying times ahead for my kids but they always turned toward their new best friends for comfort and talked to their misfits like we, as adults and parents talk to God.
I think every parent should have one misfit toy under the tree for their children on Christmas morning :)
I LOVE it!!!!
Aawww! This story touched my heart; thanks for sharing!
What a great story. Thanks!
Fantastic story!!! I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. What a wonderful legacy for your children to share with their children one day! Thank you for sharing your story with this wonderful website.
A very heart warming strory. The great job you both are doing in raising your children shine forth in this story.
Thank you so much for sharing. All year long & especially during the holidays we need to teach our children that it's more important to give!
* A NOTE: I recently heard on the news that more lower income people give to charities like the Salvation Army than do middle class & above (probably because they KNOW what it's like to be in need). This is a sad fact, but it makes my heart sing to think that people will give what little they have to help those that are even more in need!
Such a good example of stretching the dollar. There may be many homes this Christmas that do the same. Thanks for sharing this story.
Great story! And to think what some kids today "have to have"! It is possible to be happy and grateful with less than perfect.
I really liked your story. Brought back some sad memories of times without anything.
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