Four year old little B could hardly sit still while her mommy braided her hair. She was so excited, any moment her daddy would be home from work and they were going Christmas shopping for her mommy, four aunts and two grandmas. In her pocket was a clear zip-lock baggie that contained her life savings, $1.65. All day as the ideas popped into B’s head, out they came, “maybe I will get you a new pair of shoes mommy or maybe a new coat, would you like a new dress mommy? I know… a new purse – maybe I will get you a blue one.
Grayquill did not know this shopping expedition included the Aunts and Grandmas. If he had known such a monstrous task was before him it is unlikely his excitement would have matched his daughters’ enthusiasm. Mrs. Grayquill stood watching at the window, worry lines pressed her lips as the two drove off.
“B, have you thought what store you want to go to first?”
“A store that has slippers and purses; I think I will get mommy a blue purse and maybe I will get slippers for grandma and maybe a shirt for Aunt T and Aunt B”
Grayquill was not caught off guard seeing that a four year old does not exactly have a perfect concept of money. “B, a new purse will be pretty expensive, I don’t think you will have enough money for a purse.” B didn’t even hear her daddy’s words. Her excitement continued rattling off who and what different people would get.
Grayquill pulled the car into a parking spot and soon they were inside a large department store. Grayquill decided he would have to show B she did not have the funds for her large list. Arriving after sometime in front of the purses they began perusing the choices. “B, let me see your money.” B pulled out her little bag of money. “See this purse B? If you had 10 bags of money just like this one, you would not have enough money to buy this purse.” B, was quiet for a minute the wheels spinning.
“Okay…Maybe I will get slippers for mommy, let’s go look at slippers.” Off the two went to look for slippers. Here the exercise was repeated. “B, you will need 6 bags of money to buy these slippers. I think we should go to the Dollar Store, maybe we can find something nice for your mom there.”
B, was up for that idea because the Dollar Store was one of her favorite stores. Arriving, they worked their way up and down the aisles. Soon B found a little glass horse that she thought her Aunt T would like. “B, if you buy that for your Aunt T, you will not be able to buy your mother a present here, you see you need 4 bags of money to buy something at this store for everyone on your list. Maybe you should just buy your mom something and for your grandmas and aunts, maybe you could paint them a picture.” B, shook her head in a firm no but she slowly put the glass horse back on the shelf. B’s eyes starred down at the floor and without another word B turned and Grayquill followed his little daughter out of the store.
Back in the car Grayquill was at a loss where to go next. Finally in desperation, Grayquill pulled into a large drug store. This store had some small trinkets and it was a good place to buy filler for the stockings. Maybe here they could find something. Up and down the aisles they walked. After leaving the last store B’s mood had become much more serious and she had stopped talking unless spoken to. She was realizing her $1.65 was not going to buy even one of the nice gifts she had envisioned let alone gifts for her aunts and grandmas. Grayquill looked at her and at one point thought she was going to cry.
After several more conversations about not enough money the two once again started up isle number three. A shelf held some small tea candles on sale, 10 for a dollar in several different colors. “B, what about candles, you know how your mother likes candles. You have enough money for candles and you even have enough money so that you could buy candles for your grandmas and aunts.” For a minute B just stood there staring. Grayquill held his breath because if this didn’t work he didn’t know what he would do.
A long silence went by, then B said, “Blue ones for mommy, Aunt T likes yellow, Grandma B, white,” and carefully B started stacking and laying out the small candles in neat rows. When she was done she had seven rows, colors separated, all tallied and organized for the chosen recipient. Some got only one candle but her mommy got 5. The excitement and energy had returned. B told the cashier all about who the candles were for and how she was buying these with her own money. B laid all of her coins out on the counter and when it was all said and done, B had 6 cents left.
On the way home, Grayquill gave final instructions, “B, now don’t tell your mom what you bought her, it needs to be a secret, that way you mommy will be so surprised when she opens her gifts. Can you keep it a secret?”
Immediately upon arriving home, B with the package under her arm rushed into the house. She yelled running past her mom toward her bedroom, “I got you a present mommy, I can’t tell you what color the candles are.”