A Christmas Gift of Love

By Marilou D. Paderanga Idos

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    It was almost Christmas. I arrived home fatigued from walking and disappointed with the day’s events. It had been three months since I had graduated from the Church College of Hawaii and returned home to my family in the Philippines. But the only work I had been able to get was selling encyclopedias door to door.

    “Any luck today?” Mother asked hesitantly, seeing the tired look in my eyes.

    “Oh, not really, I guess encyclopedias aren’t popular Christmas gifts these days.” There was pain in my voice. I needed to sell at least one set of encyclopedias so I could buy Christmas presents for my family. For three years I had missed spending the holidays with my family. I had yearned for this moment. But even more I had looked forward to showering them with presents. Now with only two days until Christmas, I had no money. Suddenly, I felt two loving hands around me. It was Mila, my youngest sister. “Don’t worry about my chocolates,” she whispered. “Sweets aren’t good for me, anyway.”

    Then she took my hand and lovingly led me to the dinner table. As we ate, I explained to my family how sorry I was I hadn’t sold enough books to buy them Christmas presents. Then, hoping to end the discussion, I stood and started to clear the table.

    Now my father began to speak. “You are already giving us the best Christmas gift possible,” he said. Then he continued. “You were planning to stay in Hawaii and get a good job after you graduated. But we told you how much we missed you and asked you to consider coming home. What you are giving us is more important than any material gift. Your love for us is something money cannot buy.”

    By this time, tears were in my eyes.

    “Besides,” he said, “sometimes, the Lord delays a blessing so that we can appreciate more important blessings. It would be nice to get a new pair of shoes from you this Christmas, but what good would a new pair of shoes be if you were not around to make our holidays complete?”

    Suddenly, I realized how many gifts I had been given. I had a loving family. I had been able to finish school and had good prospects of a better-paying job in the coming year. Most important, I had the capacity to love and care for those around me. This, then, would be my gift to my loved ones. And perhaps it was the best gift of all.

    “By the way,” father added, smiling, “Mrs. Cruz called and said she has decided to pay cash for that set of encyclopedias for her children.”

    “Hurrah!” Mila exclaimed. “Now you can get me a box of chocolates for Christmas!”

    I was crying more than laughing. What a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas. I was at home with my family, and I had a new perspective.

    Photography by Grant Heaton