One Christmas, my four children and I headed into the big city. We went to a mall and visited Santa. It was fun for the younger two and it was great to see the older two play along. I gave them a small treat, we did some shopping and had dinner out. I was hoping it was the beginning of a new family tradition for us.

The day was going well—no major meltdowns and lots of photos by this camera-loving mom. But then we went into a store that had a large gumball-style vending machine. For $1, the kids could get a bouncy ball. I said no. Then my youngest son noticed the machine was broken, and found just over $2 in change. We looked for a store employee, as I wanted him to return the money, but, of course, they let him keep it. I knew this was going to be the end of a relatively calm day.

He wanted to spend his new-found treasure right away. I agreed, providing he could find something for that amount of money. In this big city mall, it didn't happen. We left the mall to go look at the amazing Christmas displays in store windows. The other three walked ahead of us, embarrassed, as my youngest son screamed, angry he couldn't spend his money.

I'm used to this, so I ignored the screaming and waited for the light to change so we could cross the street. One of the others called out, "Is that a homeless person?" and pointed at a man sitting on a cardboard box on this cold day. I said yes, wishing the light would change.

"My boy asked me if he did a good thing. I assured him he did a beautiful thing" "My boy asked me if he did a good thing. I assured him he did a beautiful thing"

Then my youngest broke free of my grasp and ran over to the homeless man, holding out his treasure. I nodded to let him know it was okay. The man took it and thanked us, saying two dollars was enough for him to get some food.

The light changed and I walked across that street with my head held high, fighting back tears. OK—I cried. My boy asked me if he did a good thing. I assured him he did a beautiful thing.

Meltdown over, we looked at trees, elves and Santa, then headed home.

Just when I wonder if I am doing anything right as a parent, one of my children does this. I often think that my son would have been the boy who offered Jesus his lunch in the story of the loaves and fishes.

Carol Ash is the mom of four adopted children. They attend Oshawa Temple, Ont.

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