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Rite of passage parenting: The questionable gift

To understand this story, you need to know that I live in Tulsa. You also need to know that I used to live in a one-story house with a two-car garage. When we moved into our current home, we traded our two-car garage for a smaller one, and gained a second floor.

Of course, you know who gets to park their car in the garage, and it sure isn’t me. Even though it’s only the second week in November, when I woke up yesterday morning, it was 23 degrees outside. I had to dress like an Eskimo and head out to scrape the ice off my truck windows. Then, I stood there shivering as I watched my wife back out of the garage in her warm car.

This ritual happens every morning during the winter months. But I’m not complaining. What I do is equivalent to what a man did in the old days when he laid his cloak over a puddle to help a lady.

Every year, my children ask me, “Dad, what do you want for Christmas?” All parents dread this question. There’s nothing you really need or want, but you have to come up with something. Otherwise, your children will either nag you to death, or you’ll end up on Christmas morning with a package of off-brand beef jerky from the dollar store.

My favorite gift these last few years has been gift cards from Amazon so I can buy books to read on my Kindle. But three years ago, I came up with a great gift idea: a remote starter for my pickup. That way, in the dead of winter, I could start my truck from inside our house, and let it run for a few minutes before I stepped out the door. And when my wife pulled out of the garage in her warm vehicle, I would have one of my own. I showed my family what I wanted, and pointed them to a store that was running a sale on both the remote starter and installation.

On Christmas morning, I expected to open a box containing a piece of paper that stated, “Your loving family has bought you a remote truck starter with installation.” I would act surprised and muster up a tear or two to let them know how much I appreciated such a thoughtful and expensive gift.

Christmas morning came, and I did get a small box with a gift tag that read, “To Dad.” Anticipating its contents, I kept my speech in mind as I opened the box. But I didn’t find a gift certificate for the remote starter. Instead, the box was filled with wires and odd-looking parts. I looked for the piece of paper that would tell me where to go to have it installed, but all I found was a small card that read, “Kit includes universal interface module (to bypass factory anti-theft in start mode).”

A universal interwhata-? And did I really want to bypass the factory anti-theft thingamajig? Since the remote was non-returnable, I began trying the day after Christmas to find someone who could install it.

I got two different responses. Most stores refused to install something they didn’t sell. And those who would wanted to charge me two-to-three times as much as if I’d bought the remote with installation included at the big box store.

That was three years ago, and you can guess the outcome. In the corner of my office sits a little box containing some wires and odd-looking parts. During the winter, I continue to trudge outside each morning, ice scraper in hand, and watch my wife back out of the garage in her warm car.

That little gift has puzzled me. I just don’t know what to do with it. I don’t consider it good stewardship to spend an exorbitant amount to install something I could buy and have installed for a lot less. But, since a family member gave me this gift out of love, I also feel guilty for not having found a way to use it.

In my lifetime, I’m sure I’ve given a few of those questionable gifts, too. Just talk to my wife. But one gift is never questionable: the gift of eternal life from our Lord, Jesus Christ. And His gift comes with such simple instructions: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Now that you’ve opened the box, you must decide what to do with this precious gift. Just make sure you don’t leave it on the shelf.

 

Walker Moore

Author: Walker Moore

View more articles by Walker Moore.

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