As Elder's Quorum President, S. has been heavily involved in our ward's volunteer efforts to help in Sandy disaster relief. They began sending work teams up the weekend of November 17th, and have been going strong ever since, including Black Friday. They're planning another trip this coming weekend as well, which will make the 6th full work day for S. (aside from being the ward's point man for administrative details), but there are plenty who have equaled or even exceeded him. Not including last weekend, Mormon volunteers from all over the region have totaled nearly 200,000 hours of volunteer service, which is like one guy having a 40-hour workweek for a hundred straight years.
One day in particular, he spent his time mucking out a boardwalk arcade in Keansburg, New Jersey. He said it was nearly unrecognizable as an arcade, even after shoveling piles and piles of sand out; but as the guys were leaving, the grateful owner ran after them to give them this gargantuan stuffed lion that had been spared. S. ended up with it, and Nora immediately named it Duke and attached herself to it.
S. and I were actually hoping to pass it along to someone who needed it more, and tried to throw persuasive hints out, but she wasn't buying it. We talked about foster kids who didn't have families who would love a big cuddly friend like Duke, etc., but to no avail. Finally one night, I asked her if she thought maybe we should tell Santa that she didn't really need a present from him, since she loved Duke so much; and that way Santa could give something better to someone who didn't have anything already. Or she could let Duke go somewhere else and get her own present from Santa.
After a brief pause (in which I felt totally guilty), she told me we could give Duke away.
So, yesterday morning we buckled Duke up in the car to go with S. to his work's adopt-a-family toy drive. S. hadn't been privy to the change of heart, and asked Nora why she finally decided someone else could have Duke. "I made a deal with Mom," she said. He thought that was enigmatically funny.
Now, I do feel that I forced the issue a tad; but I wouldn't have torn him away from her if she really hadn't been willing. She didn't have to think too long about it, never cried and hasn't mentioned him again since he left.
I just don't want my kids to take for granted that they have so much, and that more just "shows up". We haven't always been so blessed. It was nice to have Duke, but not miraculous-feeling -- I hope that he is a miracle to whoever receives him.
And now we have a great memory of all of us waving to him as he drove out of the driveway!
Thanks to all the great people who pay it forward whenever they get the chance.