Posted by: pendrops | April 21, 2007

garage sale giving


God, save us from thinking that all our gains make us rich. Teach us, even by a child, that our richest gains are in giving.

It was 9:30-ish and I had just hung the “EVERYTHING MUST GO – HALF PRICE!!!” sign on my garage sale table. Several women milled around, looking quite intently at some of my high-ticket items (a juicer and a George Foreman outdoor grill).

I chatted sparsely with them, wanting to be friendly, but also wanting them to have room to make the “right” decision to buy up these barely used treasures.

Then a boy, maybe 8 or 9, reached toward me with a rolled-up ten-dollar bill, the new kind that looks like pretend money. I took it.

“I want these,” he said, grabbing at the stack of 10 heavy stoneware dishes with his grubby fingers.

“Oh,” I said, surprised at the way he thrust the money so easily toward me, and his quickness to procure the set of plates and bowls. “Well, I just marked everything down by half, so those are only $5. Let me get ya some change, ok,” I blurted before he could walk away with his wares.

He didn’t say anything; only stood to the side of the table and waited for me to set the $5 in the bowl on top of his stack.

“Do you need a bag or anything?”

“No. I’m just going there,” he said, nodding his head at the tan Ford parked in front of the house next door.

“Ok,” I said, smiling as he walked a bit wobbly down the sidewalk.

After smuggly adding $5 more to my tally for the day, I picked up my conversation with the women who were still considering the juicer. A moment later, a lady got out of the tan Ford and said, “Oh, can you believe it?”

Confused at this lady who was looking in my direction, I stared back, silently urging her to say more. And she did.

“He just gave these to me for Mother’s Day,” she said, holding the dishes up and shaking her head back and forth. “With his own money, money he saved up. Can you believe that?”

She stood paralyzed, holding the heavy dishes and shaking her head again and again. Her question hung in the air: can you believe it? With my hand over my heart, I finally called out the only thing I could think to say: “That is precious, just precious. Oh my word, you enjoy those dishes.”

She nodded at me and turned to get in the tan Ford. The little boy got in the back seat, still quiet, content, and I imagine very glad he still had $5 to buy more gifts for his mom. I also imagine he was trying to figure out why we adults were so noisy about his quiet act.

Can you believe it? I asked myself this question again after the masses made their exodus from my little shop of used trinkets. Genuine generosity is hard to believe, isn’t it? Especially in this broken world where acquisition and gain is the goal. Openhanded-ness is an unbelievable scarcity, except in the heart of a child.



  1. That is precious! I hope those dishes last forever! Thanks for sharing this story – makes me want to have a garage sale!

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