This past Christmas, I distributed a gift wish list to family.
As a 40-something, I have everything I need, but we adults in the family still maintain the tradition of giving and receiving gifts. It’s a small expense and it’s an easy way to show love and we’ve always done it. And it’s kinda fun to open presents. 🙂
Here was the list:
- Kitchen timer. Digital or old-fashioned spring-powered. Magnetic for fridge mounting is a bonus.
- Outdoor thermometer that lives indoors. Wireless is best.
- Cycling glasses that don’t shade the sun or have a prescription. For keeping gravel and bugs out of my eyes.
- Toaster that evenly toasts bread.
- Warm winter socks.
Pretty practical, not too pricey, easy to find.
I got a classic toaster from the kids, and mom gave me cycling glasses and a nice pair of socks.
I thought I’d get lots of socks, because who doesn’t like to give socks? No biggie though, I can make it through the winter with some prudent rationing of my old gray boys.
But then Grey got a beautiful 6-pack of Polo socks from his aunt. He hadn’t asked for any socks, and now he was in the clover.
“Grey, my man, looks like you have more socks than you need, amirite?” I said casually, deftly cloaking my covetousness.
I fondle his new socks. He ignores me.
I short circuit the clever: “Can I have the two green ones?” Everyone knows green is my favorite color, so this will make perfect sense to him.
“Fifty cents,” he says, not bothering to look up.
“Deal.” I flip him a couple quarters. That went way better than I thought.
I was a little worried about what Nora would say. Grey receives an allowance and buys all his own clothes now. Would she accuse me of taking advantage of our son?
Nothing to do but wear the socks and prop my shoe-less feet up high in the family room. The only thing worse than taking advantage of your kid, is to act guilty about it. Then I would surely be in trouble. No, I was going to play it cool, and maybe no one would notice or care.
You know how when you secretly do some chore like vacuum the family room and cobwebs form in your ears while you wait for someone to notice and heap praise upon your thoughtfulness and industry? And how when you do one little thing of questionable judgment and someone instantly notices and jumps down your throat?
Yeah, that second one. “Are those Grey’s new socks?” Nora queried.
“You talking to me? Oh…yeah…he sold them to me.”
“Fifty cents. Said he didn’t need them.”
“No no no, you are giving those back instantly.” I hate it when Nora is so unclear and wishy-washy. 😉
Socks Vs Birthright
“It wasn’t like Esau selling his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup,” I said.
“You know, from biblical times, how Jacob took advantage of his twin Esau’s hangriness to trade a bowl of bean stew for his first-born birthright,” I said. “It wasn’t like that.”
In the history of bad trades, a bowl of stew for a birthright had to have been the worst – even including Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919 for $100k. Because it wasn’t any birthright, but rather the extension of the covenant that God had made with their grandfather Abraham – that he would be the father of a great nation, the line through which Jesus would come.
And to the bartered birthright, add a hijacked first-born blessing, which Jacob stole from Esau by tricking their father Isaac.
It’s tempting to condemn Jacob for his opportunism and deception, but Jacob has been called the ‘righteous deceiver.’ Yes, as the second-born son, he took what wasn’t his – the culture and law dictated that Esau should receive the lion’s share of the inheritance. But God was on Jacob’s side.
How do we know? Because the text tells us:
- Esau “despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:34) and what it signified
- Esau disobeyed his parents (and God) by marrying Hittite women (Genesis 28:6-9)
- God told their mother Rebekah that he chose Jacob, not Esau, to inherit the covenant (Genesis 25:22-23).
Yes, Jacob was a deceiver, but deception is not always sinful. Jacob was the righteous deceiver as God willed it. There are other biblical examples of this:
- Rahab’s hiding of Joshua’s spies in Joshua 2
- The midwives who risked their lives to save male Hebrew babies in Exodus 1
Jacob’s deception was rewarded by God. He changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 32:28), and he became the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. Esau’s descendants were the Edomites (Genesis 36). Edom was a nation that plagued Israel and was judged by God (Obadiah 1:1-21).
Back to the Socks
Trading 50 cents for two pairs of Polo socks is not deceptive. Grey is 16 after all, and maybe that’s really what they’re worth to him. He’s got loads of socks.
But it’s not righteous either. I wasn’t trying to build Grey’s college savings account, or teach him a lesson. I certainly wasn’t directed to do it by God. I was thinking about myself.
So I quietly returned the green socks, and extracted my 50 cents.
I don’t feel even a wee bit bad for myself, but if you do, my birthday is July 9. I’m sure I’ll still be in the market for socks. 🙂