David and Mercedes Rizzo share how they seek creative ways to help their young-adult daughter, who has autism, learn the joy of helping others.
In the story "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry, a young couple each sell their most treasured possession to get money to purchase a special gift for the other. Della has long, beautiful hair, which she sells to buy a gold watch chain for her husband Jim. Jim, however, has already sold his watch to buy combs for Della’s beautiful hair.
Our daughter Danielle has cut her hair as a gift, too.
This year was not the first time Danielle donated her hair to help others, especially those with cancer. This summer Danielle donated her long hair to an organization that makes fabulous wigs for those who lost their hair due to treatments for their illness. Each month we would take out the tape measure and measure the length of her ponytail until at last it reached the required length. Then her hair stylist put it in several braids, then cut each braid off and wrapped it up in a bow. Danielle’s hair looked shiny and healthy. What a gift for the person who was meant to receive it!
Haircuts did not always come easily to Danielle, due to her autism. When she was little, she would cry and squirm to avoid having her hair cut. It took her a long time to learn to tolerate haircuts and other types of necessary grooming. She had to endure painful tangles and unpleasant brushing out after showers. But over time she learned to do these things without difficulty. She enjoys haircuts now and especially having her hair braided. So growing her hair out long enough to donate it is still difficult for her but not as much as it used to be.
Danielle, in her own way, gave a beautiful and precious gift. When she brought her hair donation to the salon, she was smiling and happy. She knew that she had done something worthwhile. She is now sporting a shorter, sassy hairdo, and growing it out again for the next time.
With a little creativity, it is possible to find ways to give of yourself in service to others. Getting out and being involved in community events may be just what you and your child (young or grown-up) needs. Practicing compassion and giving of yourself to others is perhaps the most authentic expression of faith. We are most pleased to have helped Danielle find a means of practicing compassion.
Anywhere I see suffering, that is where I want to be, doing what I can. (Princess Diana of Wales)
Copyright 2022 David and Mercedes Rizzo
Images: (top) Canva; all others copyright 2022 David and Mercedes Rizzo, all rights reserved.
About the Author
David and Mercedes write and speak from a faith perspective as parents of a child with autism. They are available to speak, and have appeared on radio and other media. Visit DavidAndMercedesRizzo.com to learn more. Follow them on Facebook at Autism With The Rizzos. Authors of Praying For Your Special Needs Child, (Word Among Us Press) and Spiritually Able and The Adaptive First Eucharist Preparation Kit (Loyola Press).