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Gift of Gifting


Let me preface this post by letting you in on a tidbit of info: my husband and I are huge geeks. I promise this is relevant.

For Christmas, we got our almost-two-year-old daughter an amazing toy called the Code-A-Pillar. This little wonder bug is a unique electronic toy that teaches young children to code.

Yes, code.

We’d been following the Code-A-Pillar hype long before it hit the shelves of Toys’R’Us and Barnes and Noble. In fact, it was about this time last year that I stumbled across it while browsing the depths of a tech website. Immediately, I knew we - erm, I mean our daughter - HAD to have this toy.

I scoured the web and nailed down a release date so I could be first in line to snag the hottest new STEM toy. I never do this. Ever. But, hello, STEM, guys! It’s practically an investment in my kids’ future, so the inconvenience and cost were completely irrelevant. (Fact: Cost is never actually irrelevant when you’re twenty-somethings with two small children. But go with it, ok?)

I purchased the bug on release day and sneakily shoved the Barnes and Noble box into the back of my closet once it arrived. Occasionally, my husband and I would pop into the closet to push the buttons and run the Code-A-Pillar through its demo so we could see its eyes light up and detachable units synchronize to color and light.

We dreamed of the moment when our daughter would rip into the package and discover her new favorite toy. We imagined it rolling across the kitchen floor, humming its merry tune as it chugged around, underneath my feet while I cooked dinner, most likely.

Finally, finally, it was Christmas Eve! We wrapped the Code-A-Pillar with care and placed it under the tree, ready for a Christmas morning surprise.

And boy, did we get our surprise!


Our daughter ripped into the wrapping paper and was pretty excited because new toys are basically the epitome of a nearly two-year-old’s existence.

Then my husband excitedly pushed the Code-A-Pillar’s demo button so she could see what it did.

Big mistake.

Our daughter flipped out.

The excitement in her eyes morphed into sheer terror, as she tripped over her plaid Christmas dress to escape the flashing blue bug eyes and tweeting song it emitted. After she got her feet, she ran out of the room screaming “Bug, bug, bug, bug, bug!”

We quickly shoved the Code-A-Pillar behind the couch so that she couldn’t see it, puzzled at why she reacted so tragically to the gift we’d so carefully picked out. (We’ve now determined it’s probably a lingering terror that came out of an unfortunate animatronic Mother Goose hand-biting incident that occurred earlier in the year, but that’s a whole different story.)

Now the Code-A-Pillar lives sadly on the top shelf of our hall closet, but of course our daughter hasn’t forgotten about it. She was fairly adamant that we throw it away, making grandiose gestures toward the trash can and insisting “Bug, bye bye”!

Even now, over a week later, she wakes up every morning and says “Bug… I scared”. I was listening to a podcast and someone mentioned that something bugs them and she lost it. My husband and I have to discuss the Code-A-Pillar in hushed German, lest she suspect our topic of conversation.

Where did we go wrong?

While we can’t solve the Christmas 2016 Bug Trauma that will ultimately go down in family history, one of my priorities for 2017 is gifting. Not necessarily so that I can avoid a future bug incident - those unfortunately can’t be predicted - but so I can cultivate an attitude of appreciation for those whom I care about.

One of the five love languages is receiving gifts; it’s not my love language so, sadly, I often neglect others’ special days until the last minute.

Plus, up until recently, I honestly felt downright awkward for remembering special details and coming up with ideas for the *perfect* present, lest my recipient think I’m a freaky stalker. So I’d purposely flub it to not come on too strongly. I know that’s dumb. Or maybe it’s just typical INTJ behavior (strong memory + creativity + overthinking everything = borderline creeper).

Either way, this year we’re changing that. I’m excited to be more loving and intentional about others in my life. As a newlywed, and then as new parents, my husband and I have been the recipients of a lot of generosity and grace over the past few years. 2017 is our year to give back.

I struggle with gratitude, and it’s important for me to be deliberate in sharing my heart with others. My love language is touch, so often I stray from opening up that deeply with others. I’m still not comfortable with bridging that gap, but hope that gifting and generosity will help me to connect with those whose love language differs from mine.

This year I resolve to overcome the awkward introvertedness, one (hopefully non-terrifying-bug) gift at a time.

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