The True Value of a Gift

conversations with hank


Hank: (coming to the dinner table with a new-to-him camera around his neck)

Pai: Filho (son), I love your enthusiasm, but you are absolutely not allowed to eat dinner with your camera around your neck.

Hank: Oh, I won’t! I’m still shook. I seriously can’t believe this day was real. Did you know, mom?

Me: I had no idea. I knew Alice was stopping by because she had brought me a few things from The States, but the camera was an amazing surprise.

Pai: You will have to fill me in, because I was not in the room and then I had to leave for a meeting.

Hank: I was walking around with Manny (Alice’s one year old toddler) in the hallway and I came back in the living room and mom was already crying.

Me: I cannot help it! My happiness is tied to my tear ducts.

Pai: We know; it’s genetic.

Me: When Hank and Manny left the room Alice digs into her bag and says, “Oh yah, I wanted to ask you if it was fine before I offered, but I got a new camer and I wanted to give this one to Hank if it’s okay,” and she pulls out…

Hank: THIS! (holding up the camera still around his neck)

Me: And I just bumble and nod and obviously start crying and then…

Hank: I walk in the room and Alice says some very nice things about the photos I take and hands me the camera and asks if I want it and I just, I don’t even remember what I said…

Me: Besides, “thank you.”

Hank: I mean, of course I said thank you a lot, but I was just shook, completely shook. I still am.

Pai: Instead of being shook be honored that someone believes in supporting your talent and interests.

Me: What a special day.

Hank: I will never forget this day! It’s like when the woman from Crayola

Me: (beaming) Julie.

Hank: Yes, It’s like when Julie sent our Robin’s Egg Blue crayons and then all those other art supplies. I feel like that day. I feel special.

Pai: It is the same gesture.

Me: When you give someone the tools to further pursue a passion it is a gift for both people, the giver and the receiver.

Hank: I mean this camera, I looked up what it cost, new and used…

Me: OP-BAH-BAP-BAP BAP-Bup! (shaking my head no)

Pai: Don’t do that, Hank. The value of a gift is not in its intrinsic value, what it costs or is worth, but in the reward of what you can do with that gift or how it makes you feel. Alice invested in you and proved she believes in you. She gave you a tool to help you take your interest in photography forward. Now it is up to you to use that tool.

Hank: Mom already downloaded the users manual and I am researching getting a camera case and I am going to spend my whole school holiday taking pictures.

Pai: Smart.

Me: Her gift will only be honored if you use it and every picture you take and share with her she will be a tiny bit apart of that. That is how you can give back.

Pai: That and writing an American thank you note and offering to babysit when you’re thirteen.

Hank: OH, she and Filipe can count on that and farm chores if they need! They will have to teach me how to do the farm chores and I will do my best to ignore spiders, but, I mean, I would have done all of those things anyway.

Me: We know.

Pai: I think she knows that, too. Now take that camera off your neck so we can eat. Amália Sofia?

Molly: Sim, pai (yes, dad)?

Me: Dinner.

Molly: I coming. (walking over to the table and struggling to climbing into an standard dining chair because she refuses to use a “baby chair” anymore, once settled placing an arm on her brother’s shoulder) How your day, mano (brother)?

Hank: Mana (sister), I had the best day!

Molly: Me, too! (wrapping her arms around his neck)

Hank: Awe, I love you, mana (sister).

Molly: I love you too, mano (brother).

Me: (instantly sobbing)

Pai: Round two!

Hank: Oh, mom!

Me: I can’t help it! It is genetic! My happiness is tied to my tear ducts!

Molly: (to Hank) She happy? She happy, mano (brother)? Happy crying?

Hank: Yes, mana (sister). Don’t worry.

Me: (face in my napkin, just a weepy mess of awesome, grateful love)