Hank: (milling about in my office) Hey, what’s this mom?
Me: What’s what? (spinning around in my desk chair) Oooooops, you weren’t supposed to see that until Christmas.
Hank: What is it? I don’t understand… (reading the note on the front cover).
Me: That is your Christmas present from Grammy and Grandpa Snitch! (trying to snatch back the catalogue)
Hank: Oh! Sorry, but I don’t understand. They bought us goats? Where are the goats going to live? We don’t have a quinta (farm).
Me: (accepting defeat) The goats are not for us, and they also bought chickens, anyway, promise to be surprised on Christmas?
Hank: Promise. What is this?
Me: Through your Grammy and Grandpa Snitch’s church* they were able to buy a pair of goats, 10 chickens and a rooster. In their religion there is an important lesson that is taught: if you give a man a fish he eats for a day; if you teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime. Think about that for a second and tell me what that lesson means to you.
Hank: So like, teaching is the best way to help?
Me: Bravo, exactly. Being self sufficient is vital to a happy and healthy life. Being dependent doesn’t uplift someone, child or adult, rich or poor, whomever you may be. There is an important pride that comes with taking care of yourself as best you can.
Hank: Like how you teach me to cook instead of always cooking for me and I have responsibilities in the house to keep it clean and you will teach me to do laundry instead of always doing it for me and stuff?
Me: Exactly like that. Your Grammy and Grandpa Snitch know how fortunate we are and that, frankly, you and Molly need nothing.
Hank: It’s true.
Me: So they decided instead of giving to you both money or a toy they would give two goats to one family and ten chickens and a rooster to another family that way those families will have food and can generate income to help them have more options in life.
Hank: (catalog open, looking at the pages) So with the chickens they can have eggs.
Me: And ten chickens produce a lot of eggs, more than the family will need so they will be able to sell them.
Hank: And with a rooster they can have chicks and sell those at the praça (farmers market) or grow the chickens to eat.
Me: No one ever called you dumb.
Hank: And it says here with goats they have milk, can make cheese and they can breed the two goats and sell the baby goats.
Me: Baby goats are called kids.
Hank: Kids, like kids?
Hank: Confusing, but also… not.
Hank: I think this is a wonderful present. I really do. I am so happy.
Me: I knew you would be.
Hank: Like, with UNICEF I know my euros are helping kids with vaccines and school and I really like that, but this is great too because I know I’m helping a whole family and not just for school, but for life. Not that school isn’t super important… Right?
Me: You’ve got it spot on.
Hank: And Grammy chose chickens because you call us your chickens, didn’t she.
Me: Nothing gets past you! And they picked goats because Molly loves the Three Billy Goats Gruff.
Hank: Molly really loves that book and so do I, but she isn’t really going to understand this.
Me: Agreed, but we will and we can tell her more when she’s older.
Hank: (gasp) I KNOW! We can go to the toy store and buy her figures, ten chickens, a rooster and two goats, and wrap them and put them under the tree from Grammy and Grandpa Snitch! That will help her.
Me: That is a wonderful idea.
Hank: That is what I want to do. I love this, mom! What a great present. (walking out of the room with the catalog, reading)
Me: (to myself) What a wonderful kid.
Hank: (yelling from the living room) MOM, they have bees! The world needs more bees! We should buy some bees!
Me: (calling back to him) I’ll put it in the budget! Bring it up at the next family meeting.
Hank: (still yelling from the other room) How can you farm fish? Fish need lakes or the sea. Seriously, mom? How do you farm fish?
Me: (still yelling back)Dude, people were using aquaculture in ancient Rome!
Hank: Shut up!
Me: (smiling) Come back here and we’ll investigate!
Hank: (barreling back into the room) We have to google this! How is this possible?
Me: (positively purple with laughter)
*If you are inspired by this idea, but aren’t interested in donating to a religious officiated organization please consider donating to loans on Kiva. From their website: “Kiva is an international nonprofit, founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco, with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. We celebrate and support people looking to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.” For more information about Kiva follow this link: https://www.kiva.org/