Sunday, December 09, 2012

It's not in the book

The boy has circled every toy in the catalog.

Every. Single. Toy.

Each one is ringed in a different color. Red, it seems, delineates the playthings of greatest importance. Blue, as he's explained several dozen times, means items he would prefer to arrive before Christmas. Green is for things he would like to be preassembled if at all possible. And yellow signifies gifts that could wait until spring … although he'd gladly accept them with the other presents should cluster delivery prove more convenient.

He's thoughtful that way.

He has even colored-coded the girl-marketed toys in rings of pink and purple, explaining quite matter-of-factly, that Santa might bring them for Ittybit if there were any more room in the sled.

His sister smiled, thrust out her hip, waggled her finger and said, in her best Big-Sister-Voice, “Oh, brother.”

It's not as if she's immune to the infection that is consumerism, she's just more realistic.

She's long known the Santa who comes to our house rarely brings things you want, let alone ALL of the things you want.

It also helps that, as she peruses his list with the experience and maturity of a nearly nine-year-old, she has no use for three-duck pull toy that really quacks or a colorful crib mobile.

She's already been there, done that, and received a few shekels for them at a yard sale.

No, no. no. Santa is NEVER going to bring you all that,” she tells him adroitly as she wrestles the ink-drenched wish list from his kung-fu grip and dumps it into the recycling bin. “You have to search your heart not a catalog.”

I swooned.

You see, we'd just been to a presentation made by former Peace Corps volunteer Lynn Minderman, whose work in Lesotho, a rural village in Africa, is sponsored by the Ittybit's 4-H club.

Minderman told us about how they'd helped the orphanage in the isolated mountain village raise chickens, obtain a milking cow and grown their own garden.

We all sat rapt as Minderman described how nothing goes to waste: How boys are thrilled with the gift of wires and tin cans, the raw materials with which they make wagons; and how girls are all smiles to find bottle caps and feed sacks they fashion into skirts for dancing.

You know when your parents go to the store. Maybe on a shopping trip, and they bring a little something for you? Well when their parents go to a camp town, maybe 50 miles away to get supplies, little girls are hoping that they will bring home feed sacks and the boys are hoping they will bring home wire. … Anything they find to make their toys,” she explained, adding that she'd never seen happier children than those in her beloved Lesotho.

I'd imagined Ittybit was trying to make a similar point to her brother when she closed the book and told him to “search his heart.”

But alas ...

You mean I should only ask for a Nintendo 3DS in Cosmo Black?”

She nods her head. “It probably wouldn't hurt if you ask for a feed sack, too.”

Not there yet, but coming along.

Change, after all, is a gradual thing.

Qholaqhoe Mountain Connections is a 501c3 organization. One-hundred percent of all donations go toward two projects:  Qholaqhoe High School Scholarship Program and Likoting Village Orphan Garden. No salaries are paid and no expenses provided to the organization staff.
For more information about Lynn Minderman and her work, or to find out how you can help, visit

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