I love treasure hunting.
Ducking into a consignment shop and digging for the perfect gem is my favorite. I love that so often just the right item presents itself at just the right time. I love bringing something special home for one of the kids; knowing they will see it as gold. It always feels like a gifting adventure heading into the store, I’m never quite sure which family member will luck out that day.
These red Jordan sneakers were a treasure meant for my middle son.
I found them at one of our local children’s consignment shops at the end of last winter. Pristine. Brand new condition. They were a size up from my sweet pea who I knew would do a back flip over them. The thrill of the hunt was high! I tucked them away for the next Christmas, this Christmas, when I guessed he’d fit them perfectly. It’s rare that I have anything too far ahead of time for Christmas, but these sneakers were the gold nugget find of the day.
This little guy loves all things sports. He thrives on any court or field. I imagined him packing those sneakers up in his gym bag, proudly taking them out and tying them up for basketball at the YMCA with his buddies. I pictured him dancing on air walking down the school hallways in them. And I was even pretty certain he’d try to wear them under his church acolyte robe too. Gifting this babe is truly a joy; his heart is always excited and grateful. I was ecstatic to have a little treasure hidden away that I knew would light him up.
Except when I took them out this Christmas, I couldn’t bring myself to wrap them.
I looked at them for a few minutes and suddenly they represented how significantly life had changed for the kids. Not all bad. Definitely not all good. It doesn’t escape me for a second that we still have in place what matters most, one another. But even so, there was no looking away from the bright red sneakers staring back at me and shouting that so much has changed since the day I thought they were the perfect treasure find.
A minute passed as it sunk in. I realized that every single context my son would have worn them, doesn’t currently exist. He is fully remote with school. There are no meet ups with buddies at the YMCA. There is no Saturday morning basketball league. There are no play dates with friends. And even church, where I’d imagined he’d excitedly try to sneak them beneath an acolyte robe, is now virtual. I thought about how the kids have had to say ‘goodbye for now’ to so much of their regular life.
And I felt sadness and frustration.
Another minute, and I considered how the kids have managed all these changes. For the vast majority, they’ve had a positive attitude. I’ve been amazed that they really haven’t even complained. And they’ve learned some important lessons. Life is not always smooth. It requires stretching and sacrifice and patience. And your happiness along the way, depends a lot on the heart and effort you bring to the situation.
And I felt proud.
Still another minute, and I thought especially of my son who would have done those back flips for these red sneakers. He is safe. He is happy. He is loved. These are the real treasures.
And I felt grateful.
These sneakers didn’t make an under the tree appearance. As much as everything has changed, it didn’t seem quite right. Instead, later on Christmas day, I pulled him aside and placed them in his hands. I told him the story of how I’d treasure hunted them last winter. How I had been so excited to give them to him. I told him I understand just how much has changed not only in the great big world, but for his little world too. That I’m so very proud of the attitude he’s brought to it all. The choice he makes each day for joy, even as his heart misses so much.
And…that little boy’s face still lit up for these red sneakers. Despite not having one single place to wear them to. He put them on and strutted around the house. He said thank you. He smiled.
He took all those muddled up feelings swirling around these bright red shoes, and he placed them swiftly in the box labeled joy.
I saw in that moment, the choice we all get. Life tosses many mixed-up difficult feelings at us. It’s important to process and let yourself feel each one. But then, there comes a decision about where to let the emotions dwell.
Yes, I love treasure hunting. Most especially when it leads your eyes to see the greatest gifts.