Would You Give A Gift To A Brat You Don’t Know?

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Last night on a Southwest Airlines flight, Marvelyne and I were seated in front of an unaccompanied eight year old kid. Even with as much as I love kids, unaccompanied children on flights can sometimes be a challenge. This kid was to prove to be no exception to the rule!

The flight attendant seated a gentleman in the same row as the boy. The man, a good-natured, slow talking Texan, had a good spirit around him and happily accepted his role as partial babysitter. When he sat down, he immediately engaged the kid on a kid’s level; asking him questions about who he’d been visiting in Florida, where he lived, what grade he was in, what he wanted for Christmas, etc.

With the question about Christmas gifts, the boy said he wanted a double barrel Nerf shotgun. I doubt the gentleman is up on the latest Nerf products, so he asked the boy, “Do you have a Wii?” The boy answered, “Well, I want one, but my mom can’t afford it, so I’m asking for the Nerf gun.”

For a third grader to understand a parent’s financial issues is one thing. For that same kid to take it to the next level and want to help is another.

When the flight attendants started handing out beverages, the boy asked, “What’s the cheapest drink you have?”

Think about that for a second, folks…he’s a third grader on a cross country flight. Literally, Fort Lauderdale to Oakland, CA. He’s been away from home for eight days. He’s aware his mom is strapped for cash. He’s changed his wish list to accommodate what Mom can afford. Now, he’s taking it upon himself to be sure he’s purchasing the cheapest thing they have (BTW, everyone around him smiled when he got excited since the drinks are all free!)

Sweet, sensitive kid, huh? Not so much…

For the rest of the flight, he proceeded to kick the chair in front of him, to literally yell out for 10 seconds at a time, to play loudly with his G.I. Joes, to whistle and, in general, be a total pest. By the time we landed in Austin, I was glad to be getting off the plane.

As we taxied to the gate, the gentleman next to him handed him something. I’m not 100% sure what it was, but I figure it was money. He said to the boy, “Do you think if I give this to you, you can hang onto it and give it to your mom?” “Yes, I’ll put it in my wallet right now,” the boy answered. “You tell your mom to have a merry Christmas…and you do the same, okay?” The kid agreed.

Folks, there wasn’t anyone within earshot who didn’t have tears in their eyes. Maybe it’s because it’s Christmas. Maybe this is the kind of thing this man would do year round. Maybe it was feeling sorry for the kid’s financial plight.

Whatever it was, I want to be more like this Texan. Frankly, by the time I’d listened to the kid whistling loudly for an hour, I was just ready to remove myself from his presence. But this guy gave the kid grace, generosity and compassion-something I think I may lack. Even with all that annoyance from the flight, he still went back to wanting to help the little boy in the seat next to him…that same little kid who asked about soda prices and wanted to be sure his mama could afford his Christmas gifts.

What can you do to be more generous this time of year? Actually, any time during the year? And are you like this Texan? Willing to bend over backwards to help those less fortunate? Even if those less fortunate folks are annoying?

This was a Christmas Eve I’ll never forget…mainly because I want to work all year long at being like this Texan. I hope you’ll do the same.

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  • Susabelle

    That little boy was beyond his years. The kicking, whistling, playing loudly, etc., is normal eight year old behavior, and you should not fault him for that (I have an almost-7 year old, and two teens, so I know of what I speak). The rest of it…he’s a smart kid and he’s going to do fine out there. The Texan was doing what came naturally to most of us…helping out someone who could use a little boost. A great Christmas lesson.

  • gma12

    You are such a gifted writer and honest about your feelings to boot. I came across your blog by chance. I’m 78 years old and just lost my oldest daughter on December 26. I have 11 children now, 26 grandchildren and 2 1/2 great-grandchildren. I belong to a writer’s group and found your blog in her “blogs I’m following” list. Keep blogging!

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