One of my dear friends has a daughter and son-in-law who have been in Nigeria throughout the holidays. They have been going through the long process of adopting a 2-year-old boy and are awaiting one final bureaucratic OK that will allow them to bring him home to Texas. It was tough for the couple to be away from family during Christmas (and tough for the family!), but at least the adoption is final and they are getting to spend quality time together as a family.
The week of Christmas, my friend sent me a short video of their Nigerian Christmas celebration that featured their new son receiving his first gift—EVER. Each Christmas, the orphanage where he has lived since birth would get three or four gifts—total—for everyone, but this is the first time for him to get a present just for him.
At first, the child wasn’t sure what to do with the wrapping paper and had to be coaxed to open it. You can hear his mom in the background encouraging him until he finally began to tear into it. Have you ever seen pure, un-adult-erated joy? Between every rip, he would laugh out-loud a full-throated, mouth wide-open laugh and then dance around a moment before going back to his present.
When he finally finished, he discovered that the present was a toy phone—his very own cute-as-a-button toy phone. His mom said, “Hello?” Can you say, “Hello?” Which the toddler answered, “Hello? Hello?” and then proceeded to laugh and dance some more!!
This scene was impossible for me to watch without laughing out-loud myself and shedding some tears at the same time. I know, this boy is a 2-year-old and all 2-year-olds LOVE opening presents, don’t they? And, all 2-year-olds laugh hard and dance around with abandon. But, to think this was the first time this little boy received a gift for him and him alone. . . .
Needless-to-say, I can’t wait to meet this little one and I’m so happy and grateful that he has found his forever family that will shower him with love. My hope and prayer is that growing up in our culture, a culture that is preoccupied with stuff, material things, doesn’t rob him of his joy in receiving a gift just for him.