04272_000_022Every man shall give as he is able (Deuteronomy 16:17).
One year when I was about eight years old, Dad told my brother, my sister, and me that there would not be much money for Christmas gifts. He suggested we use our imagination and talents to make gifts for each other.
I made gifts for Dad, my sister, and my brother, but I had trouble thinking of a gift I could make for my mother. I thought for a long time.
Finally, I came up with a plan. My mother was well known for her sponge cakes with orange-peel frosting. She often made them for fundraisers, and everyone loved them. But making a sponge cake took a lot of egg yolks, and this year there had not been enough eggs. I wanted to give my mother a dozen eggs for Christmas.
Dad had put me in charge of taking care of the young chickens. Usually, these chickens would start laying eggs in January, but I figured if I took extra special care of them they would start earlier.
Twice every day, right on time, I fed the chickens by hand. I carried warm water from the house for them to drink. I covered the windows with burlap to keep the chicken coop warmer. I even cleaned the coop and made six nests with fresh straw.
Every day, I checked the nests for eggs. December came, and there were still no eggs. In my prayers, I began to ask for the chickens to be blessed.
Finally, 12 days before Christmas, I found an egg! I kept checking every day, and carefully collected the eggs in a carton.
Two days before Christmas, my father announced that we would leave early the next morning for Grandma’s house. My heart sank. I only had 11 eggs! I was one egg short of my goal.
All night I tossed and turned. I got up early the next morning and ran to the coop to see if there was another egg. There were none.
At Grandma’s house, I wrapped the 11-egg surprise in pretty paper and ribbon and put it with the other gifts under the tree. I wondered if my mother would be disappointed about the missing egg.
On Christmas morning, my curious mother unwrapped the carton. A look of amazement spread over her face. Then happy tears filled her eyes and streamed down her cheeks. She looked at me lovingly and told me what a special gift I had given her. There were just 11 eggs, but I had done my best to show my love.
“If every one of us would make the effort to do our best, the world would be much better, and we would be much happier.” 3
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008)
Illustration by Mark Robison
Did you know that Ukrainians decorate eggs for Christmas and Easter?
Mandy, you are just so egg-u-cated!