I will get back to birthy posts soon, I promise.
Recently, Norah was participating in a food drive for United Christian Ministries. Fantastic. She helped pick out what foods we would donate each week. We talked about need. We talked about sharing.
Then, I realized it was a contest within this group. The group of kids who brought the most food would win a pizza party.
A pizza party?
See, I grew up with stuff like this. Lots of rewards for good behavior, memorizing scripture, perfect attendance. I kind of felt that way of thinking was behind us. That we had a new understanding of social justice. That the reward was in the doing and the giving.
Somehow I cannot imagine Jesus, when he sent his disciples out, saying, “whosoever heals the most lepers will get first seating at the marriage supper of the lamb.”
Actually he said they would be flogged and hated.
Norah’s group didn’t win the party. I’m relieved. Because the people we were collecting cast-off, dusty cans of creamed corn probably don’t get many pizza parties.
Am I a scrooge about this? Maybe it is all harmless. I know I can’t shelter her from shallow rewards and legalism. But oh how I want her heart to stay tender to the needs around her. I want to model ways of engaging with people without tidy third parties.
Or pizza parties.
I don’t think you’re nit-picking, but I also don’t think you need to worry too much about Norah getting the wrong idea. You’re teaching her with your words and actions. Part of me thinks that the more cans the better, even if some were gotten for less-than-honorable reasons.
Oh man, am I in the midst of this dilemma . . . What to teach Abraham about Christmas? The birth of our savior: was it even in December? Santa Claus: Isn’t that St. Nickalaus, and what’s that have to do with candy canes? Be good and you’ll get stuff: Um, haven’t I been trying to teach him that virtue is it’s own reward?
The best I’ve been able to come up with so far is to honor this beautiful world that has been created by something powerful, and to celebrate this season and the return of the light.
Yep, I have trouble with the naughty/nice list, too. Strangers asking, “have you been a good little girl this year?” Whatever you do, Abby, will be fantastic, I’m sure.
Katy–you are right. It is good that people gave. Regardless of the means or the motives.