This I Believe

Rebecca - West Leechburg, Pennsylvania
Entered on May 2, 2007

A Simple Gift

Getting wrapped up in the fancy paper and colorful bows, I found it difficult to have the holiday spirit the first year after my parents separated. Since my family was unable to afford presents under the Christmas tree, I was feeling selfish and sorry for myself over materialistic things. Despite always hearing how holidays were more about giving than receiving, I did not understand the value of these words until I received a simple gift that year. Although this gift was tangible in nature, the intangible value added the true meaning. Touched by an anonymous act of kindness that remains a mystery today, I received the most valuable gift that year, which has inspired me to share with others today.

When I opened the door to retrieve the newspaper on Christmas morning, I felt something resisting on the other side. Dangling back and forth on the keyed doorknob, a burlap sack, decorated with felt cutouts of Christmas carolers, graced the worn handle. Not really believing my eyes, I yelled anxiously for my mom to come look at what I had found. A disposable camera, computer game, gift certificates, photo album, and an angel craft were among the tiny gifts that emptied out onto the table. In a handwriting that did not look familiar to either of us, the gift tags were simply signed “Santa.” Despite making many phone calls that day trying to figure out the mystery, we never found out who left the gifts.

Decorated with the words “We Believes in Angels,” the wooden angel craft hangs on the side of my refrigerator year-round. Defining angels as guardian spirits that manifest goodness, purity, and selflessness, I am reminded of these values when I walk past the angel craft today. This spirit of selflessness has shaped my passion to volunteer to help others. During Christmas time each year, I wrap shoeboxes filled with gifts for children at a local women’s shelter. Remembering how I felt receiving that sack, I hope to touch these scarred children, who face similar if not worse situations. Letting the cherubic glow melt my icy layer away, I found the true holiday spirit as I was touched by an angel and simple gift.

Learning to think outside the box during the holidays, I have realized that the spirit of Christmas lies behind the emotions that compel each of us to give to others. Those tiny presents that I received were inexpensive, but they were the most valuable gifts I ever received. It was about the gift of giving, not the monetary amounts on the price tags. Keeping this in mind today, I try to share these simple gifts with others out there to inspire them to believe in angels and understand the true value of giving and receiving. As the familiar saying goes, the best gifts truly do come in small packages.