I’m not a very materialistic person. I don’t put a lot of importance on things. Maybe that’s because The Husband and I have always struggled financially. We’ve had medical bills since The Older Boy was born, so frivolous spending was never a luxury we had. I’d like to think that I wouldn’t be materialistic, regardless of our history, but who knows?
We’ve always made decent money. We’ve always worked hard. But, we’ve also always had special circumstances. We live very simply. We have a humble, 1600 square foot home, one family vehicle, and one company vehicle. I budget every penny that we earn, and we’ve lived by a budget our entire marriage. If our kids want a toy, they have to do extra chores to earn the money. If my husband and I want something, we have to save for it.
If you’re impressed, don’t be. We had to learn to live this way. It was a necessity. You can only stretch a dollar so far.
With that being said, we do have some very nice things, and I appreciate these things. But, they are not what I value most. The things that I value most are the things that hold sentimental meaning to me…pictures, gifts that the kids picked out for me, gifts that the kids made for me, cards from my family and friends, notes from The Husband, etc.
One of my favorite possessions was given to me by a little girl who I’ll call Alice. Alice was one of my Catechism students this year who made an impact on me from the very first day of class. This was my first year teaching, and I was given a third grade class. On the very first day, right after I had introduced myself to the students, the CCD coordinator knocked on my door and asked if I would take one more student. I peeked around her to see a child crying in the hallway, holding on to her dad, and begging him not to leave. She was originally assigned to another class, but for some reason she didn’t want to be there.
The other children stared at her as she was dragged to a desk, crying the whole way. Her dad pried her off of his leg, smiled at me, mouthed an “I’m so sorry” and ran out of the door. Alice sat at her desk, put her head down, and sobbed. I went over to her, leaned down and whispered, “Hi Alice. I’m Ms. Amie, and I’m so glad you’re going to be in my class this year. I’m going to leave your book right here, ok? If you want to join us, you can. Your dad will be back before you know it.” Although she never spoke that day, she did eventually lift her head and listen.
Painfully quiet in the beginning, Alice eventually began to open up. She began to participate in group activities, and she slowly made friends with some of the other girls in the class. I immediately liked her. She was smart, kind, respectful, and she giggled a lot. At everything. She reminded me of my childhood self.
Sometimes she’d have a sad look in her eyes, and I always wondered what her life was like. I have a sneaking suspicion that school was not fun for her. Considering some of the things that she told me, I think she was bullied by peers. I always wanted to take that sadness from her. She is a beautiful child. I love her deeply, as though she were my own family.
When we had our last class before Christmas break, Alice brought treats for everyone. While the kids were having fun and playing games, she shyly came up to me and handed me a homemade card and a gift. The card had drawings of butterflies and flowers, and it contained 3 simple words. “God loves you.” Along with her signature, that’s all it said. I don’t know why it touched me so, but it did. I leaned down, hugged her, and said, “He loves you too, Alice. And so do I.”
She then pulled out a surprise that she had hiding behind her back. It was an artificial flower–a pink rose–about 4 inches long, which had a matching pink ribbon tied around it. “I made this for you. It’s pretty, just like you.”
I melted. I’m such a sap that I actually had to hold back tears. Not because she had a gift for me, but because of the thought of her gift. I found out that she stayed at her grandmother’s house after school. With Christmas approaching, she wanted to give me a gift, and not having any money, she looked through the treasures that her grandmother owned. From what I understand, she came across the rose, thought of me, “made it prettier” by adding the ribbon, then made a card to go with it. That’s sweet. That’s thoughtful. That’s Alice.
The little flower doesn’t look like much. The ends of the ribbon are starting to fray, and the tips of the petals are beginning to get discolored from age. (Lord knows how old the little flower is!) I don’t care. I love it. I love what it represents…a beautiful child, a beautiful soul.
The little flower has a place of honor in my house. It is on my nightstand, right next to a picture of my boys and my rosary. Every time I pass it, I smile. Every time I pass it, I get a warm feeling in my heart. Every time I pass it, I think of Alice.
And, I cannot think of Alice without feeling love. So, basically, Alice’s gift = thoughts of Alice = love.
I guess it truly is the thought that counts.