Cow joined our family at Christmas time 15 years ago. She is a sweet-tempered, black-and-white Holstein with a pink nose, given to my oldest son by my father and step-mother. Through the years, she has put up with a lot. Four riders, cow tipping, babies chewing on her horns, being loved too much, being loved too little.
Cow is a Little Tikes rocking cow, but she has always been a little more than just a toy to me. I grew up on a farm where tobacco, corn, beans, and cattle were raised. I helped my dad with the cattle, especially calves, watering and feeding them. When I was younger I would occasionally hop on the back of one of calves for a ride. While my kids have been to my father's barns and seen the cattle out in the field, the closest they have come to this experience was riding on the back of Cow in our living room.
Cow has been a sweet link to my past. Seeing her immediately reminds me of my dad, of my childhood, and of the sweet, fleeting rides of my four children's toddlerhoods. But now it is time for me to let Cow move on to greener pastures. I have decided that this year she needs to be donated to the 2010 Faith and Community Christmas Store.
Last year over 15,000 children received gifts through the Faith and Community Christmas Store. My children and I helped work at the Christmas Store- a few hours sorting toys and a few hours helping shoppers. We met lovely people from central and eastern Kentucky, all of whom were having a hard time in a hard economy. This year more people are expected. If you want to capture the TRUE meaning of Christmas, if you would like to meet some angels dressed up as Kentuckians, I strongly urge you to volunteer. Even children as young as 6 can get in on the act of helping (http://www.godsnet.info/currentevents.htm).
Last year we took some new and some outgrown toys with us to donate. It was hard for my then-five year old. I explained to him that this was our chance to help out Santa, to be Christmas elves. "But," my son moaned, "it's not the same. The elves make toys. They don't have to give away theirs!" That was hard to argue with.
This year my son has been much braver and more willing to say good-by to some of the toys that have been sitting on shelves in his room. And his bravery has inspired me. Yes, in many ways it would be so sweet to see grandchildren ride on Cow some day in the future. But I think it is more important that some other mother get the joy of seeing their toddler ride off on Cow adventures and chew on Cow's horns. So this week, Cow will get cleaned up, hugged a few times, and then head off to do what she does best- provide smiles and wonderful Christmas memories. I know another family will love Cow as much as we have.