What was the best gift you ever received as a kid? When I was growing up, mine was the Star Trek Action Playset. It had The Original Series Bridge, Transporter room, and I think my brother and I got Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy action figures. I played with those toys for hours every day, and I never thought that there could ever be a gift that meant as much to me.

It only took a couple of months for that toy to break, but it still holds a spot in my heart. But as I think back, the greatest gift I ever got as a kid, wasn’t that toy. When I look back over my childhood years, I think about the people in my life who made my day a little better. Teachers who shared books with me that sparked my love of reading. Coaches who taught me the importance of hard work, and how to hit a curve ball. My uncles who shared their love of Lord of the Rings with my brother and me, and showed us how important family could be. My Hebrew school teacher, Mr. Rabinowitz, who showed me the importance of always keeping a sense of humor, and waited with me at the bus stop so I didn’t have to wait alone. I didn’t realize, at the time, how much it meant to me that Mr. Rabinowitz would sit at the bus stop, and ask how I was doing. And he listened to the answer. Sometimes he gave me advice, but mostly he listened.

I would trade every memory I have of playing with that Star Trek Action Playset if I could go back and thank Mr. Rabinowitz just one time for the gift that he gave me.

Here at the Clubs, our mentors give that gift to our kids every day. They sit down and ask the question, “How are you doing today?” and listen to the answer. They listen beyond the words, to hear the feelings that our kids can’t always voice. Sometimes, they give advice, and sometimes, they teach lessons, but they always listen to the answers. 

This season, the gift I’d like most is for you to think about the adults in your life who listened to you, and if they’re still around, thank them. 

On behalf of every child, every mentor, and every family, thank you for the gifts that you have given to our kids this year.

I wish you the happiest of holidays.

Jason Newman