What Present Could I Give?
December 1998

“What Present Could I Give?” Ensign, Dec. 1998, 54

What Present Could I Give?

It was almost Christmas, and I needed to sell at least one set of encyclopedias so I could buy Christmas presents for my family. Three months earlier I had graduated from the Church College of Hawaii (now Brigham Young University—Hawaii Campus) and had decided to go home to live with my family in the Philippines. However, the only job I could get was a sales job for a book company.

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

I hid my disappointment over the day’s events. “Oh, nothing promising. I guess books aren’t popular Christmas gifts this year.”

For three years I had missed spending the holidays with my family and had yearned to be with them. Now that I was home, I longed to shower my family members with gifts, but only two days remained before Christmas, and I had no money.

Suddenly I felt two loving hands around me. “Dinner is ready; we are waiting for you!” said Mila, my younger sister.

Looking at her reminded me that I hadn’t been able to buy her a gift. I opened my mouth to tell her, but she quickly said, “Don’t worry about buying me those chocolates I wanted. I’ve heard that too many sweets aren’t good for me.” Then, lovingly, she took my hand and led me to the dinner table.

Over dinner I started to talk. I told my family how sorry I was I couldn’t sell any books before Christmas to earn money for gifts. Then I stood and began clearing the table. Father asked me to take my seat again.

“You’ve already given us Christmas gifts,” he said.

“I did?” He must be dreaming, I thought. How could that be? I was nearly penniless.

“Had you stayed in Hawaii to work, as you thought of doing, perhaps you could have showered us with nice Christmas gifts. But you came home, and that is more important than any material gift you could have given us! Your love for us is something money cannot buy.” Tears came to my eyes, and he continued: “Sometimes the Lord delays some blessings so that we may realize other blessings.”

How could I have been so blind? I realized how richly blessed I was. I had a loving family, an education, and good prospects for finding a better-paying job in the year to come. Even more important, I had the capacity to love those around me in ways that mattered to them. Yes, I had given them the best gift I had: I had come home.

“By the way,” my father said with a smile, “Mrs. Cruz called and said she is paying cash for that set of encyclopedias.”

Tears mingled with cheers at his news, but in my heart I had already exchanged the best of all Christmas gifts with my family—our love for each other.

  • Marilou D. Paderanga Idos serves as a seminary teacher in the Balanga Ward and as a counselor in the Balanga Philippines Stake Primary presidency.