This holiday season, I will be celebrating my 43rd Christmas. In this time, I have made many holiday memories--some good, some not so good, and some which are still very funny. After all these Christmases, I have one particular memory which sticks out in my mind, and it involved “Santa’s Workshop”. No, I didn’t grow up in the North Pole, but I did grown up in Texas. And every year at my elementary school before school ended for the winter break, the stage in our cafeteria would be transformed into “Santa’s Workshop.” When I say “transformed,” I mean folding tables were set up in rows and a variety of family-satisfying gifts were put out on the tables. Gifts such as coffee mugs displaying slogans like “World’s Best Dad”, ceramic figurines of all sorts, neck ties, aprons, and, yes, even ashtrays (remember, this was over 30 years ago) lined the tables for students to peruse and purchase for different family members as gifts for the holidays. Every year, as I stood on the wooden steps leading to “Santa’s Workshop,” my anxiety would rise in hopes that the children in front of me would not buy the last pet rock which I knew my dad wanted more than anything. As I retell this memory, I am somewhat surprised at how a humble school fundraiser contributed so greatly to the development of my character as an adult and father. “Santa’s Workshop” helped to form generosity within me. It was the first time in my life that I remember thinking about other people and what they would like or need as a gift. This kind of generosity is a character trait that I strive to instill in my own children to this day.
Here at the Family Care Network, the Holidays provides a great opportunity to teach generosity to fathers such as myself. Our Sponsor a Child gift gathering campaign is that opportunity. On more than one occasion, I have held the front door open at FCNI and watched as families of all kinds carry gifts into the building for people they have never met or nor even know the real names of. One common factor that all of these people and families share is that they are all smiling. In fact, one particular family sticks out in my mind. The family consisted of a mom, dad, two toddler-aged boys and baby on mom’s hip. The smile on the parents’ faces was one of pride in their two boys who were carrying toys into the building; toys the young boys were happily giving away to kids they didn’t know and would most likely never meet. The smiles on the two little boys’ faces were those of pure joy as they experienced the satisfaction of being generous.
As an employee at the Family Care Network, I am thankful to all the individuals, families and businesses who are so generous every holiday seasons to the families and children I work with. It is a privilege to witness this generosity towards our community each year. Sometimes, I will even walk a little slower through the lobby during the holidays, hoping that I will be able to hold the door for someone and witness those “generosity” smiles again.
As a father, I am thankful to the Family Care Network which provides me an opportunity to share the gift of generosity with my children, and with the children I work with.