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Single Popcorn Piece
Photo: Jason Antony
“I’m the boy who shared his food!” my two-year-old daughter announced. She had her arms wrapped around a glass jar filled with plastic play food.

Even though she was only a toddler at the time, I was trying to teach her the importance of sharing. She had been fascinated with the Bible story of how a boy shared his small lunch with Jesus, and how through a miracle it fed thousands.

I knew that as a parent I really couldn’t force my child to share. Sharing needed to be something her heart told her to do, not something her Mom made her do.

Learning to Share

As parents, we do our best to instill values in our children’s minds and hearts, never quite sure what is really being heard. Then one day, they surprise us, and we know that it’s there.

I’ll always remember one such surprise. The church fellowship hall had a festive look about it that autumn night. There were hay bails, pumpkins and cornstalks lining the walls. The smell of popcorn and caramel apples filled the air. It was our church’s annual harvest party. The atmosphere was a happy one as we played traditional harvest games. At one station, children and adults were trying to eat apples suspended on strings; at another, little ones were fishing for prizes with a homemade pole and pond; others were knocking over plastic bowling pins, while even more children were gathered around a cookie decorating table. One of the tables was selling popcorn for 25 cents a bag. My toddler thought it was the greatest thing to eat popcorn out of a bag rather than a bowl! Hers was empty in no time, and when she asked for another one, we walked over to the table and I gave her 25 cents for another bag.

Later that evening, in from the brisk autumn night came two women and three young children. None of us knew who they were, or how they’d found out about the party, yet we welcomed them to come and join us. It was obvious that these women and their children were in need. The littlest girl, about my daughter’s age, was wearing a thin, soiled dress. She came without a jacket despite the chilly evening. Her face was dirty and her blond, curly hair matted. She stayed close by her mom’s side.

As I was talking with her mom, I glanced down and saw my daughter holding a single piece of popcorn to the little girl’s lips. The girl looked up at me with wide eyes, as if afraid she would get in trouble if she accepted it. My own daughter was looking up at me too, and in a tone of compassion unusual for a two-year-old said, “She’s hungry, Mommy.” I took my daughter’s tiny hand and we walked over to the popcorn table. Once again I gave her 25 cents to buy another bag of popcorn—this one, to share.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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