“My Pocket Was Empty,” Ensign, Dec. 2006, 65
Finances were tight for our young family in 1979. I was a student at Colorado State University. Meager funds from loans and my wife’s enterprises were deposited directly into a savings account. Then we would withdraw a budgeted amount every week for expenses. As Christmas approached we recognized that this holiday would be a frugal one.
One Friday evening we decided that I would take the two oldest of our four children to explore the excitement of the local shopping mall. En route we made our bank withdrawal, electing to withdraw the full December amount at the beginning of the month to cover the increased expenses of the holidays. I took the full amount in small bills.
Although no snow had fallen, the weather was cold and raw with an icy wind. Arriving at the crowded mall parking lot, I hurriedly extracted the boys from the van, eager to get inside the bright, warm mall.
For well over an hour we wandered from store to store, enjoying the rich sights and smells. At last we agreed to cap our outing with some ice cream. With shock, however, I immediately discovered that my shirt pocket was empty of its recent bulge of money.
I fought down a rising panic as we quickly retraced our steps. But with each negative response to our anxious inquiries about someone finding some money, our sense of loss increased. After making a last, futile stop at a security desk, we sadly returned home.
We related the bad news to my concerned wife. How could we buy food, pay the rent and utilities, and cover other expenses for the month, let alone provide a few extras for Christmas? The children began to softly cry and whisper among themselves. Somberly we gathered in family prayer to ask for guidance. Then, as we were discussing every possible but unlikely avenue to compensate for the loss, the phone rang.
It was the security guard at the mall. “Are you the people who recently reported the loss of some money?” he asked.
“Yes, we are,” I answered.
“How much was it, and in what denominations?”
After we gave him the information, he asked if we could return to the mall.
With guarded anticipation we made the short journey back. The security guard told us that several people had turned in numerous small bills found scattered by the wind in the parking lot. A count revealed the exact amount we had lost. There was no one to thank, for these honest souls left no names. The guard smiled and wished us a merry Christmas as he handed us the small stack of bills. Much relieved and profoundly grateful, we drove home.
We then knelt as a family and offered our thanks for the blessings given. Christmas was saved for our little family, and an eternal lesson was learned. These honest people were wonderful examples to us. What better way to give thanks to our Heavenly Father for the birth of His Son than by living the true spirit of Christmas?