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The Christmas Gift

Five friends find the gift of Christmas is in the giving

Five Children stood at the entrance to the park early Christmas morning. Three girls, Katelyn, Maddison and Isabella or Kay, Maddie, and Izzy as they are known to their friends, stood on one side of the wheelbarrow. Two boys, Nick and Eddie stood on the other side. In the wheelbarrow laid a pile of Christmas presents.

"Do you think this is enough," asked Maddie.

"I think so. We each brought three presents. There are only twelve kids," Eddie said, referring to the children they had met. Earlier that week their children's church had visited a group home for foster kids who hadn't been placed with a family yet. While there, they handed out Christmas gifts and sang carols. When they saw the gifts had only been gloves, it got them talking about how they would feel if they got up on Christmas morning and only received some gloves.

That gave Kay an idea. What if they each gave up a couple gifts and delivered them to the group home Christmas morning? From that a plan was formed. They would all get up extra early and each take three gifts meant for them and meet at the park near the entrance to their neighborhood. They decided on three a piece in case they had miscounted the kids at the group home.

The smallest, Izzy, was having a hard enough time holding three gifts just to the end of her block. She went back and got her father's wheelbarrow.  All the other kids were happy to put their gifts in the wheelbarrow and rest their arms.

"Any idea what's in yours," Nick asked.

"Not me, I mean its probably Legos, but I don't know for sure. You guys?" Eddie asked.

"I asked for dudes," Nick said referring to the action figures he so enjoyed.

"I asked for the new professional Barbie," Izzy said looking down at the rectangular box in the wheelbarrow. She really wanted that doll, but it would have to wait until her birthday. She worried that these kids did not have parents to buy them something for their birthday.

"I think they are Funky Friends," Maddie said, referring to the stuffed animals with big eyes and wild hair.

"Unfortunately, I asked for Mandy Magic books, so I hope some of them like to read," Kay said.

"Jeez, Kay, you know they are just going to make those books into movies. Why would you waste time reading them," Eddie asked referring to the books about a young girl named Mandy who finds out she is a witch.

"You two can argue over books and movies another time. We better get started if we are going to make it to the group home by six thirty. Remember that schedule on the wall said the kids get up at seven. Did you write the note Maddie?" Nick asked.

They wanted to leave a note with the gifts to let them know that the gifts were from Santa Claus. They figured that the kids, being only eight or nine, still believed in Santa. Since each of them was eleven or twelve, they knew the truth, but they didn't want to ruin it for them. They also decided that Maddie should write the note.  She had the best handwriting.

"I wrote it this morning," she said holding it up. It simply said, "Merry Christmas! From Santa."

With the note written and presents in the wheelbarrow, they headed down the street. The group home was halfway down Main Street, and they were a dozen blocks away.

Meanwhile back at Izzy's house, a proud parent just hung up the phone.

"Well they did it," David Shuman, Izzy's dad, said to his wife, Kristi. "I knew they were up to something when I overheard Izzy and Kay planning this in her room last night. Eddie's father, Red saw them walking past the park with a wheelbarrow full of presents," he finished saying as he put on his jacket.

"What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to go pick them up and take them to the home. I love that they gave up their presents, but I'm not thrilled about them walking down Main Street this early in the morning without an adult," he said walking out the door.

Driving in a truck he caught up to the kids in just a couple minutes. "You guys need a lift?" he asked pulling up next to them with the window down.

Izzy, scarred at the sight of her father, said, "Dad, I can explain."

"Explain what? That you wanted to give your gifts to less fortunate kids?"

"How did you know?" Kay asked.

"Oh parents just know," he said, lifting the wheelbarrow into the back of the truck. "Hop in. I will get you there on time."

The kids were happy to have a five-minute ride over the thirty-minute walk pushing a wheelbarrow.

At the group home they carefully stacked the gifts in a nice pile inside the front porch door. Maddie proudly placed her note on top.

"Why did you say it was from Santa? Why not say it was from you?" David asked.

"Because, Mr. Shuman, they may still believe in Santa," Nick replied.

"That may be true, but don't you want them to be able to thank you?"

"No," Izzy answered flatly. "Our children's church teacher, Mrs. Coates, says that a true gift is one you give without expecting anything in return, not even a thank you."

"Izzy, sometimes I forget what a good girl you are. OK, all of you back into the truck and I will drive you home."

Later that night the kids were all playing in the Shuman basement with old toys. The toys may be old, but the Christmas joy in their hearts was new and would outlast any toy.


Dedicated to my mother Sandy Coates, who taught countless children the true meaning of Christmas while serving her community as Children's Church teacher at Community Gospel Church of Pasadena.