A boy about 8 years old came into a diner and sat in a booth. When the waitress asked for his order, the boy said, "How much is a hot fudge sundae?" "One dollar," replied the waitress. The boy hesitated and said, "How much for just plain ice cream?" The waitress, a little impatiently, said "Seventy-five cents." He nodded soberly and said, "I'll just have the plain ice cream, please."
The waitress watched as the boy ate every drop, scraping the sides of the bowl. He paid, said thank you and left. When she cleared his table, she saw to her surprise that he had left her a quarter for a tip.
Maybe I'm too sentimental, but I choke up a little at stories like that. I very much wanted my boys to be like that boy. Over the last couple of weeks, I have posted ideas for "alternative" holiday gifts, such as microloans or livestock or medical care to entrepreneurs in developing countries.* Sometimes, though, people--especially kids--like something tangible, something they can see.
Several years ago, I gave the boys little treasure boxes filled with 25 "gold" one-dollar coins, with a card saying that the money was theirs to give away any way they wanted. They've had some pretty creative ideas over the years: way overtipping a waitress, buying all the newspapers from the guy selling them in the street, buying lunch for a soldier or a homeless person. Sometimes they gave it away all in one day, and sometimes over several days or weeks, when they saw an opportunity. They liked the idea so much that I've repeated it every year--and now I give myself a roll of coins, so I can join in the fun, too.
I bet someone on your list would like this.
*Related posts: No Wrapping Paper Required
No Ribbon Required, Either
And You Don't Have to Go to the Mall
Good Kids in Five Easy Steps
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