Giving a True Gift

By Rebecca Russell

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    Our seminary class has always exchanged presents at Christmastime. Last year, as usual, we held a meeting to determine how we would go about sharing gifts.

    “We could draw names as always,” someone said, “but let’s set a price limit.”

    “How about instead of buying a gift, we write a letter?” Amy suggested. “We could secretly watch the person whose name we get, notice his or her good qualities, and then write a letter to the person, telling what we’ve learned.”

    After some discussion we all agreed, though most people didn’t appear very enthusiastic—just glad they wouldn’t have to spend any money.

    I drew the name of a girl I barely knew. Michelle had been in some of my classes, but I had never taken the time to talk with her. I began to watch her, both in seminary and in our history class.

    Michelle was shy, but I noticed she always had a warm smile when she would pass strangers in the hall. I learned that she was intelligent when she gave a marvelous presentation in our history class. I was most impressed, however, when I saw her love for people—when she put her arm around a tearful girl on her way out of seminary, when she befriended a lonely handicapped student. She became a real person to me instead of just another face at school. I began to love her.

    The day we were to exchange letters finally arrived. As I stood and read my letter, I found it easy to express my feelings to Michelle. Other students experiences similar reactions.

    John said, “I grew closer to Glenn when I attended a performance of a play he was in. I didn’t even know he was an actor until I called his mom to find out more about him. I felt proud to see that someone from our class had the lead in the play. I couldn’t wait to write him a letter telling him how much I admired his acting ability.”

    Over the next hour it became obvious that we were no longer concerned with what we would receive, but with being able to make someone else feel good. Angie found that by expressing her love for Patrick, whom she had never gotten along with, she was better able to dispense with grudges and learn to love.

    The Christmas gifts our seminary class exchanged that day meant more to me than anything money could buy. Many students’ spirits were lifted, and we felt a closeness that unified our class for the rest of the year.

    We learned there is something positive in everyone and that, when we share our love for them, we are giving a true gift.

    Illustrated by Roger Motzkus