Excerpt from Save Me, God! I Fell in the Carpool

                                                         The Gift

                                                            "This poor widow has put in more than all the others.
                                                              All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth;
                                                           but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
                                                                                          Luke 21: 3-4
     Six children, six years old. Boys. At a birthday party. Excedrin headache #85.
     I was smart. I'd moved the festivities from home sweet home to the local Mexican restaurant who specialized in such things.
Why any business would willingly invite gaggles of birthday-crazed children into their establishment to spill drinks, topple chairs,
and cover the floor with crumbs was beyond me. But if they were willing, I'd comply—whatever the price. Better their floor than
     The Party Coordinator was young (a prerequisite) and enthusiastic (give her time). She herded the boys into a far corner of
the restaurant that was marked with balloons tied onto every chair as a warning to other diners:
Stay back! Way back! As the
boys scrambled onto the chairs (knocking two out of the six to the ground) she handed out party hats, including a huge
sombrero for my son, Carson.
     I took my camera position a safe distance away, and let her do her stuff.
     Pin the tail on the donkey. Bean bag toss. Word scramble (TSROTBRUI = BURRITOS). Untied shoelaces, runny noses,
bobbing cowlicks.
     It was time to open the gifts. The boys sat on their knees and leaned across the table, anxious for Carson to "Open mine
     It was then I noticed that one boy, Matthew, was sitting quietly in his chair. He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his down
vest. His eyes flit between Carson and the front door of the restaurant. His legs dangled with a rhythm that quickened with each
passing minute.
     Paper ripped. Bows were squashed. One present opened. Two.
     Matthew wiggled in his chair. His head jerked toward the door as customers left and others entered. He bit his lip.
What was wrong?
     It had something to do with the presents. I counted them. Five guests . . . four presents.
     Matthew didn't have a present to give Carson! I gave an inward sigh. How could I let him know it didn't matter? How could I
     Matthew stood. All the presents had been opened except his.
 It's okay, Matthew. You don't need—
     Matthew pulled a dog-chewed plastic dinosaur from the pocket of his vest. He handed it to Carson.
     "Happy birthday," he said.
     I prayed my six-year-old would show some etiquette far beyond his years.
     "Thanks, Matthew," said Carson.
 Good boy.
     Matthew's head snapped toward the voice of his mother. She’d come in the restaurant unnoticed. She handed him a
beautifully wrapped birthday present for Carson.
     The look on Matthew's face was worth a hundred gifts. A thousand. His fidgeting stopped. His shoulders straightened as he
handed Carson the gift.
     "Happy birthday, Carson," he said again.
     Carson opened the present.
     "Thanks, Matthew," he said. "Thanks for both presents."
     Matthew's mother looked puzzled. While the boys were eating their cake and spilling their juice, I let her in on the secret.
I told her about her son's gift of the toy dinosaur.
     Her eyes filled with proud tears. As did mine. We felt honored to have witnessed true giving—and receiving. From two six-
year-old boys. Two grimy-faced, scraped-kneed, heaven-sent little boys.
     A boy who’d given all he had. And another who’d received the gift with grace.

                                                                              @ Copyright Nancy Moser 2019