Today I helped out at the kids' school Holiday Store. It is very cute and such. The school orders all kinds of little trinkets from some China import place plus adds in a few homemade things from the older students, decorates the library, and parents send the kids in with a modest amount of money to do their family gift shopping. The 4th and 5th grade kids help the littler ones with selecting gifts for all the people on their lists, and also run the cash register and help bag the presents. The profit made goes to help fund week-long school trips for the older kids. I like it because I see lots of people focused on good lessons: kindness to others, managing time and money, independence.

There weren't enough student helpers to assist the kindergarteners that came in during my shift, so I took a couple of lovely little girls around the tables to assist them in their shopping while they gripped their money envelopes in one hand and a plastic bag in the other. I can imagine how daunting it is for them, at five years old, not much taller than the tables, to see all these presents and goodies and things and having to decide what what WHAT to buy! It is also incredibly hard for them sometimes to resist buying thing for themselves, of course, but I am so charmed with how earnest they are in trying to get something for their families. As always, the conversations are the best thing about it all:

Me: So, Emma, you have five dollars to spend on your mom. What do you think she would like?
Emma: Well, I know I can't buy her a new coat.
Me: That is right. Maybe we can find something else she likes. I'm sure we can.
Emma: How much is this? (holds up a tiny jeweled toe ring that surely cost.000000001 of a cent to make and package)
Me: That is sixty-five cents.
Emma: I'll take that. My dad will think she has pretty toes with that and not so gross of feet.
Me. Ah. Well, good.

Ashley: My grandpa likes golf, is there anything here with golf?
Me: Hmm...I don't see anything, Ashley. What about cars? Here is a mousepad with a car on it.
Ashley: He is a bad driver.

Emma: I can't find anything for my dad! I can't give him a pink pen!
Me: No, I agree. No pink pens. What about this ornament? You could write "DAD" on it.
Emma: You have really good ideas.
Me: Thank you, Emma!

Emma and Ashley finished up, albeit last in their class because I liked talking with them, and they seemed to be having a good time. They all got a cookie to eat on their way back to class, pleased with what they had accomplished. As Emma's dad admires his wife's fancy toe while he hangs his DAD ornament on the family Christmas tree and Ashley's grandpa hopefully does not drive his '89 Olds through their picture window, I hope their families are as pleased and proud of them as I was.