It was a cold cloudy day – Christmas was near. I had a three period break in my schedule that day, so I walked away from my high school and followed the worn path through the trees, across a stream and onto the street that connected to the main drag, where Cole’s drug store was located.
In my pocket were a collection of coins and bills I’d earned the summer before.
Over my head, the trees swayed in the winter breeze. Their branches clacked together like dried bones.
Cars roared on the street behind me, as I opened the door to the drug store. The noise disappeared, as the door closed behind me.
I looked around – clean aisles full of merchandise stretched out in every direction.
I was a kid on a mission but felt out of place in a store filled with adults. For the first time, I was going to purchase Christmas gifts for my mum and dad.
In one aisle, I found perfumes and colognes. For Mum I got a cheap Estée Lauder perfume. I knew she’d like it. For my dad, I got a bottle of Old Spice.
I felt light-headed as I walked back to school that cold winter day. My purchases weighed like gold in the bag dangling from my hand.
Christmas morning came. We gathered around the tree. My two older brothers and my Mum and dad stared at the of gifts under the tree. We didn’t have much then.
We were poor.
For the first time in my life, I didn’t look for the gifts with my name on them.
I looked at the poorly wrapped gifts hiding deep under the tree with tags marked “Mum” and “Dad”.
My gifts were cheap – what a kid could afford.
I watched Mum and dad open them. Their eyes opened wide. It was my first gift to them. They played the game. “Michael! How thoughtful of you!”
Something happened that morning. There was a change. For the first time, I experienced the joy of giving and learned life is not about receiving; it’s about giving.
Michael T. Smith