Keeping the change

Ivy can now stop mocking me relentlessly on her KnitSpirit podcast. I have spent my gift certificate to my local yarn store.

She said on her program a couple of weeks ago that it was unfathomable that someone could have a certificate for free yarn and go by the yarn store once or twice a week for five months and not spend it. Well, I’ve gone in and gotten some sock yarn. So there.

My certificate had $22.05 remaining, and my sock yarn cost $22. The cashier asked if I wanted the five cents back, and at first I said just keep it (“Ring the yarn up at $22.05 and I won’t notice”) but then she handed me a nickel.

I handed it to Kiddo#2.

This caused much stress in Kiddo#1, which I made up for by making sure he got a good long turn at the ball winder. But that’s not the point of this post. The point is, right before we left, Kiddo#2 asked to use the bathroom, and when she emerged, she was in tears.

She choked out, “I dropped my nickel.”

Yep, there it was at the bottom of the toilet. And yes, I grew up in New York City, but there are some things even I won’t do. We said goodbye to the nickel, and I held Kiddo#2 while she suffered in agonized silence.

I assured her I’d give her a new one, and as soon as we got home, she asked for it. Easy enough.

As an adult, I realize this isn’t a big deal, but as a kid, I would have been just as devastated as she was. It would have been my nickel, a treat from a trip with Mom. “Keeping the change” is a time-honored kid tradition. Back when I was only about 14, I clipped a Reader’s Digest column where one man talked about Heaven as a trip with God to see the Brooklyn Dodgers, and one line was that God let him keep the change for the subway fare.

Am I just jaded, that I flushed away a nickel without thinking twice? Is there change-magic that erodes in our hearts when we routinely spend a hundred dollars at the grocery store?

And then I wondered, is this how we are with God? We hold onto something He gives us, and we think it’s the most special thing in the world. We hold tight to it. And then when we lose it (maybe by our own fault, maybe not) we’re devastated. The actual value of the thing doesn’t matter. We want it replaced. We ask God to reassure us that all isn’t lost.

Maybe God holds us and doesn’t say, “Silly you. It’s just a nickel.”

I’ve been realizing that a lot of the things I hold onto in the world are just “things” and not of lasting importance. Cleaning out my house to sell it showed me just how many “important” things I’d stashed away. I could probably live without all of them if I had to, much as I hate to admit it. (Although it would be nicer for everyone else on Earth if God at least let me keep some clothes.)

And we whine about the unfairness of who got what, like Kiddo#1, and then we want an extra-long turn at the ball-winder, or we want to keep looking at it and remembering. In the end, maybe it’s only something to hold onto. Maybe Kiddo#2 has forgotten all about her nickel by now.

I’m just wondering now how much the world looks like nickels from the eyes of eternity. And whether God smiles when he tells us to “keep the change.”


  1. ivyreisner

    I’m very proud of you. You’re showing all the signs of blossoming into a properly yarn-obsessive knitter.

    Your children are already demonstrating a healthy interest in the craft. K1 is wise in his interest in ball winders (if I send him a swift and a ball winder, do you think he might do something about winding close to 40 skeins of laceweight for me?), and K2 was probably wondering how many nickels she’d need for the bright pink fun fur in the back.

    I no longer need to goad you, Pretty. You’re doing just fine.

  2. Jenni

    Keep the change – God sends us all those little pennies on the sidewalk to remind us of His love.

    I heard a story once about a man that took “In God We Trust” to heart. Everytime he saw a penny, he paused to think where his trust was and to put it back in God if he was off, then picked up the penny and went on with his day. What a great reminder.

  3. CricketB

    My daughter’s about the same age as yours, and I can sooo see that happening! (Son now has some idea of what things cost. He won’t buy gifts at the dollar store anymore.)

    I keep Chapters certificates for months. The stress of avoiding the store unless I have a clear, short list, and then sticking to it, makes me forget I have them.

    Interesting, how something we value so little becomes something important to a child. I normally catch it the other way around, when I want to get rid of the McDonald’s toys. It’s hard to remember to value them for the child.

    Covey has a story that ends with the quote, “No, I don’t love baseball that much, I love my son that much.”

    It’s good to remember that, to God, most things are small change. There is plenty more.

Comments are closed.