Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Jars, Oreos, and the worst Tooth Fairy ever

Anyone who likes Christmas books has probably heard of Jason Wright's novel, Christmas Jars. Well this year my family and I decided that we would fill our own Christmas Jar so that we can give the money to someone who needs a little lift. All of the kids have been very excited to do this. I'm constantly amazed at how much joy they get out of putting their money into the jar rather than their own pockets. But my youngest daughter, Emma (who just turned 5), wins the prize for the most selfless donation....

For the past month Emma has been telling us that she had a loose tooth, but to tell you the truth, I'd tugged on it a couple of times and never felt much wiggle. But since this would be her first tooth to come out, she has been anxiously waiting for its demise so that she could reap the rewards of her first Tooth Fairy experience. Two days ago we had some of her friends over for pre-school, and during snack time my wife was handing out Oreo cookies. Unfortunately, the package of Oreos in the cupboard was nearly empty, so she retrieved a new one...straight from the freezer. As you can imagine, the cookies were as hard as rocks, but the kids just grabbed them and started munching.

In a very short amount of time, little Emma was screaming, "My mouth is bleeding!" I was in the other room and came running, but Rebeecca was already there wiping a bloody Oreo mess from her face. And in the middle of the frozen cookie was Emma's tooth! Even while the blood was dripping down her mouth she began talking about how now the Tooth Fairy could come and bring her money. I took her into the bathroom and helped her clean up, and she asked me if I thought the Tooth Fairy would bring her a lot of money. I told her we'd have to wait and see. But regarless of the amount, she was clearly very happy that the stone-cold cookie had prematurely ripped a tooth from her jaw, and was thrilled that her pain would result in a cash payout.

Later that night, after the kids had gone to bed, Rebecca and I remembered that Emma had dutifully tucked her tooth beneath her pillow and was expecting it to be gone by morning, replaced by something more valuable. Unfortunately, neither of us are "cash" people, and both of our wallets were completely empty. We searched all over the house for some spare change, but found none. Of course, neither of us wanted to have to explain to our 5-year-old daughter why the Tooth Fairy had completely ignored her toothful offering, so we did what any [heartless, cheap, and otherwise lousy] parent would do...

Yes, I'm ashamed to admit it, for the first time this year we went to the kitchen counter and stole from the Christmas Jar! Isn't that awful?!? That money was intended to help someone in need, and we withdrew $2.00 to give to our kid in the name of the Tooth Fairy!!

Well the next morning Emma woke up overjoyed to find the two bucks under her pillow (hey, that's big-money to a 5-year-old). She was so proud, she went around showing everyone how much money she had and told us all about how the Tooth Fairy had come and given it to her. Once we'd all seen her money and heard her tell the story several times, we started getting breakfast ready. Emma was still in her bedroom admiring her wad of cash--we thought she was putting it in her piggy bank. But a few minutes later she came walking quietly into the kitchen, still holding her money. She paced casually up to the counter, climbed up on a stool, and tucked all of her money from the Tooth Fairy into the Christmas Jar!

Needless to say, the entire family appreciated her example of giving. None of the children knew that we'd stolen from the Christmas Jar. How fitting that the selflessness of a child would put the money right back where it belonged. Someone out there is going to end up with a very full jar of money this Christmas season, but I know that nobody will benefit from that jar more than those of us who have filled it.

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