“The Unknown Gift,” New Era, Dec. 2009, 45
A few years ago, I had a very good friend at school. She was two grades above me, so we didn’t have any classes together. We always talked with each other during breaks between classes because it was the only time we saw each other. She had some rough times at home and would often come to me upset. I tried to be helpful and give her advice, but I never thought I did any good because she was always sad again the next day.
Then, the day before Christmas break, it was my turn to be sad. I had been so busy with school that I had forgotten the fast approaching holiday break. My friend asked what was wrong, and I told her I hadn’t done anything for anyone. And now it was too late to even get Christmas presents or make cards. She just laughed. At first I thought she was making fun of me. Then she told me that throughout the year, I had been helping her. She said that before she met me, it was hard to handle her parents’ divorce. But her life had been brighter since knowing me. She had even written me a poem about the ways I had helped her and given her strength. She handed me her final copy.
Just then, the bell rang and we had to go back to our classes. When I reached the classroom, I quietly read the poem. It was so kind and heartfelt that it almost made me cry.
After Christmas break, I looked all over for my friend but couldn’t find her. I found out she had moved away during the break. I was so sad that day because I couldn’t thank her for showing me how I had made a difference in someone else’s life.
It’s been nine years since I received that poem. I can still remember its final lines:
And when others have fallen to the storm,
She is the one that is still standing tall,
Not ready to give up or fall.
Many Christmas gifts are only physical things, and sometimes lack a lot of meaning. Of all the gifts I have received over the years, that tiny piece of paper sets the standard. It was one of the best of all. It was a gift from the heart.