My parents belong to an organization that throws a Children’s Christmas Party for the children and grandchildren of members every year. My parents took me every year until I was 11 or 12 (I am in my 20’s now), and it was always one of my favourite events of the year. Every year, there is food, games, magicians, puppet shows, and Santa Claus, who arrives with bins and bins full of brand new toys for each child to unwrap and take home. The same woman has been in charge of purchasing toys for the children for longer than I have been alive, and she does a fantastic job. When invitees RSVP to the party, they register the attending children’s genders and ages, and each year and gender gets a specific toy. For example, on one of my favourite years, I (as a 5-year-old girl) received a purple Crayola art easel with a pack of crayons, and my brother (as a 3-year-old boy) got 12 jars of Play-Doh. The point I am trying to make, is that the woman in charge of the presents (we’ll call her “M”) doesn’t cheap out. The toys are always high-quality and age appropriate, and she puts a lot of thought into each age and gender.
Of course, some people always find a reason to complain. This year’s Children’s Christmas Party has come and gone. I have not attended for some time, but my parents remain close to M, who continues buying toys for the kids every year. Apparently this year, a woman approached M at the party, and informed her that her daughter’s toy was inappropriate, as “We are Christians, and we don’t believe in this type of toy.” The woman went on to say that she would much rather swap her 9-year-old daughter’s toy for one of the small CD players that the 12-year-old girls were receiving this year. The offensive toy in question (that all the other 9-year-old girls received as well) was a kit for the girl to make hair decorations out of plastic beads. It has been some time since my last religion class, so I must have been sick the day they taught that it was against the Bible to put beads in your hair.
M explained to the woman that the gift could not be swapped. Enough gifts are purchased for the children who are registered. No more, and no less. There simply weren’t any CD players left to give to the 9-year-old, and even if there were, a swap would still not be possible because as soon as one child got to switch their gifts, more children would want to pick and choose their presents. This woman, however, would not let up. After a fair bit of badgering, it seemed even her daughter was getting upset. Finally, exasperated, M reiterated that there was nothing she could do to switch the toy for something else. She suggested that the Christian thing to do would be to donate the unwanted toy to a charity that collected for less fortunate children for Christmas. In fact, M went on to explain, there was a collection being taken up at that very party, and the donated toys would be driven to the charity that evening. At this, M ended the conversation and busied herself with other tasks.
A few hours later, as the party was winding down, the same woman approached M. “Just wanted to let you know that we have another daughter we forgot to register. She’s 12.” Again, M apologized, and reminded the woman that it had been printed in bold type on the invitations that children who weren’t registered would not receive a gift. The woman left in a huff without her coveted CD player.
When the party ended, everything was cleaned up, and all that was left to do was deliver the donated toys to the above-mentioned charity, M made a point to check for a hair-decorating kit among the donations. There was none there. Apparently, the so-called “religiously offensive” toy was better than no toy at all. 1205-12