Two days before Christmas, we got a sudden snowstorm in Colorado. The storm was brief, but it left behind enough snow to cover the sidewalks with a few inches of white fluff. When the sun reappeared, my nine-year-old daughter Sarah took the initiative and bundled herself up in a long-sleeved shirt and a fleece-lined sweatshirt, a pair of jeans and some waterproof snow pants, three pairs of socks, high boots, a winter coat, mittens, and a neon pink knitted stocking cap with a pom-pom on top. Nearly as round as she was tall, she hustled out the door, ready to earn a few dollars shoveling sidewalks for the neighbors on our block.
“I’ll give you five bucks to do our front walk between the house and the street,” I offered, afraid she might not find other takers. “You need to clear the walk along the street, and the brick path that goes to where I take the dog out. Never mind the driveway—your dad’s car will pack that snow right down when he comes home.”
It turned out two other neighbors let my daughter shovel for them as well.
“Your girl’s a fine young entrepreneur,” Dick, the kind old man from across the street, told me later. “You bet I’ll support that.”
When Sarah had been gone for well over an hour, I started to get concerned. I had just reached for my coat, intending to venture out and search for her, when she burst through the door on a gust of frigid air. She had a small plastic bag in her hand. I figured she had gone to Seven-11 at the end of the street, eager to spend her hard-won earnings on candy.
She threw off her wet wrappings and marched straight to her art shelf. For the rest of the afternoon, she busied herself with glue, scissors, and who knew what, all the while gleefully hinting that I was going to love the present I would find under the tree on Christmas morning.
“It cost me ten bucks, Mom!” she finally blurted out, unaware of the social taboo that generally stops people from telling others how much has been spent on their Christmas gifts.
When Sarah had half sweet-talked and half strong-armed us out of bed on the big day, her dad and I put on our bathrobes, made coffee, and settled ourselves by the Christmas tree. Before Sarah opened a single gift of her own, she dropped a small tissue paper package into my lap. I peeled off a mile and a half of Scotch tape and unwrapped a fidget spinner. The thumb grip was covered with yellow sequins that had been glued firmly in place.
“There’s a picture of Aqua-Man® under the sequins,” Sarah said. “He was all they had at Seven-11, and you had to have a fidget spinner because you always spin mine while you think of what to write about on your computer. So I had to buy Aqua-Man® with my shoveling money and find a way to cover him up since he’s a boy and you’re a girl. Girls don’t do boy superheroes, you know. I tried yellow paper, but then it wouldn’t spin, so sparkles were the only way. I picked yellow because you like the sun so much. If you could see, I think you’d like the color of sunshine.”
I hugged and kissed my little girl, who I decided right then must have the biggest heart in the state of Colorado.