By Dr. James Sutton, Psychologist
I was always eager to welcome the west Texas summers. School would be out; I could leave my shoes under the bed. One of my dearest summer memories, however, was watching for the mailman to leave something special in our mailbox.
It would be a letter from my grandmother in Oklahoma. The letter was always addressed to my mother, but my sister and I were not forgotten. There would be two dimes taped to a card inside Grandma’s letter; one for each of us.
These dimes meant one thing: ice cream! If my sister or I heard the ice cream man on the next street over, we’d rush inside to grab our dimes and stand patiently on the curb until he came down our street. If our tastes weren’t too fancy, a dime would be just enough.
It was a given that Grandma loved us, but using the US Mail to deliver ice cream in the summer was a creative way to send the message. It was long-distance love, and we experienced it for many years.
But something always puzzled me about those dimes. They were ALWAYS brand new and shiny; uncirculated. Many years later, Mom shared the story how, near the first of the month, Grandma would ride the city bus downtown with her modest check in hand. She would stop by the bank to cash it, always asking for a roll of new dimes. No old dimes for her five grandkids; they had to be NEW ones.
Today it’s possible for grandparents to video chat with their grandkids in real time. Cell phones and the internet give instant access anywhere and anytime, and gift cards can buy just about anything a grandchild could possibly want.
But that’s just the point, isn’t it? I sometimes wonder if we lavish TOO much on our children and grandchildren.
Can expensive gifts cloud a deeper message? Can love be diminished by extravagance? Might we return to a time when the heart of the giver was more valued than the gift?
And love sometimes rode on a dime.
A nationally recognized child and adolescent psychologist, author and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is in demand for his expertise on emotionally and behaviorally troubled youngsters, and his skill for sharing it. He the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network, a popular internet radio program supporting young people and their families, and every month he publishes The Changing Behavior Digest, offering tips on managing difficult children and teens. Both resources (and others) are available at no cost through his website, http://www.DocSpeak.com.