On December 25, seven years ago, I received the best Christmas gift a nice Jewish girl from NJ could ask for: my son, Jason.
Having a birthday in December is tough. Even though we’re Jewish, Jason’s birthday often overlaps with Chanukah and our house began to look like a mini Toys R Us after his first few celebrations.
My husband and I have taught our children from day one that giving to those less fortunate than you is the best gift you can give – to yourself and to others. When Jason was turning four, we gave him a choice. Either he could have a small party with just a few of his closest friends and get to keep the gifts he would receive, or have a large celebration and donate all of the gifts to children who needed them more than he.
I am proud to say that at the young age of (not even) four, he decided on the latter. He is incredibly inclusive and well-liked, and did not want to have to choose among his friends. And he told me, “Mom, really – I have enough toys. I want to give them to sick kids.” Did I mention he was only four at the time?
So, that year and every year since, we ask his guests to bring an unwrapped toy or book instead of a gift for Jason. After the party, we head over to Children’s Memorial Hospital to hand over the loot to the kids. I think Jason feels a bit like Santa Claus.