flurries were flying and the temperature was rapidly dropping.
Christmas eve had finally come to the little Kentucky township of
Lyndon. Harry had just turned sixteen last summer and was
thinking about girls and cars and not much else. Those who
him, knew he was always thinking, "what's in it for me."
but now, as Christmas approached, he had become even more
self-centered. Yes, as usual, he was thinking more about what
he might get for Christmas than what he might give. Harry was
not a giver. Oh, he was soft-hearted, at least, somewhat, but
when it came to family, he seemed to always have great expectations.
To his thinking, his mom and dad had brought him into this world and
they owed him. It was their job to make sure he had
he ever needed or wanted and as far as his sister and brothers were
concerned, they could fend for
his sixteen years, Harry had never thought of buying a Christmas gift
for his mother and father, much less his siblings and as usual, he
was dropping hints about what he expected for Christmas to anyone who
would listen. What does most every sixteen-year-old want for
Christmas? Why, a car of course. Four wheels,
he could work on, something that would be his and his alone.
could do whatever he wanted with it. Maybe he'd put a new
engine in it, or deck it out with the best audio system going (he
could get the old man to fork over bucks for whatever it
He loved loud music and he wanted to hear it the right way, so, it
was no surprise to anyone when Harry hinted that he wanted a
It didn't have to be new. No, it could be an older model (he
had told his mother it could be a year or two old, and his
expectations were soaring. it was Christmas and he deserved a nice
had never worked a day in his life. He bragged, "when I
need money, I just hit the old man up for a few bucks."”
His mother was no doubt an even softer touch. He could slip
into his little child voice and that worked more often than
She couldn't resist him. "He is a good boy,"”she
would say. "Yes, he has a few short comings, but he will
grow out of them."
happened that Christmas Eve. Harry was home, while his
father, two brothers and little sister had gone shopping for last
minute gifts. Harry thought it was ridiculous for the family
load-up and go out into the madness that was Christmas Eve.
could hear them as they pulled out of the drive, all singing, “I'm
dreaming of a White Christmas, and his father was off-key as
“That's childish stuff,”he thought, as he rummaged
through drawers looking for receipts from gifts his mother and father
had purchased for him. Surely he would find a receipt from a
local car dealership, or something to show they had purchased that
car he wanted, almost demanded. "If they haven't bought me
a car, I'm gonna be hell on wheels to live with," he
thought. Then it happened. He was upstairs when the
doorbell rang and when he looked outside, he saw flashing blue lights
coming from a police cruiser in the driveway.
chill ran up Harry's spine; he didn't know what to do. Should
he answer the door? If his mom or dad had been there, they
would answer, but they weren't, so he decided to pretend no one was
home. He hadn't done anything wrong, in fact, he rarely drove
the family car and he knew he hadn't gotten any tickets. “What
could he have done the police would know about?” he wondered.
“ "Man, I ain't gonna talk to nobody, 'cause I ain't done
nothin' that would bring them out here." As usual, Harry
thought it was about him. If it was good, he had caused it;
it was bad, hey, someone else was to blame. But this time it
wasn't about Harry and as he sat huddling by his bed upstairs, he
heard a loud voice say, "We know you're in there son. Your
mom told us you were home. Come to the door; we have some
for you, son. Now he recognized the voice; it was Police
it's my new car," Harry thought. "Aha! They went out
to buy me a car and the chief helped them get it home." That was
it, he thought, as he bounded down the steps and opened the
The chief had a_shockingly serious look on his face and said, "Harry,
get your coat and we'll take you to the hospital. Everyone is
going to be okay, but your family was in a pretty serious accident
tonight son and your mother asked us to come get you."”
learned a valuable lesson that evening. Family is more
important than any Christmas gift could be, no matter the value.
Family is the true gift. The simple but important
about life is learning to be selfless, not selfish. Harry
a lot that night, but also said a prayer of thanks that his family
would recover from their injuries. He didn't realize how much
he loved them; too bad it took something so terrible for him to learn
you are looking for true love and kindness your family will be there
to provide it. Oh, and yes, Harry's mom & dad did buy
car. It was 16 years old, but he didn't complain.
got a job after school and told his dad he wanted to reimburse him.
His dad said "No, son, it's our gift. All I ask is of you is
that you maintain it and buy your own gas."
also asked the principal at his school if he could speak to his
fellow students during the next assembly. The principal agreed. He
was so nervous and he cried that day as he told his classmates his
story. He said he wanted to thank everyone for their concern
and kindness especially when everyone in his family was in the
hospital, and he apologized to them for being "so
self-centered." To his very pleasant surprise, it was the
first of many times he would hear his classmates cheer him.
Harry experienced a very Merry Christmas that year, perhaps the best
of his life and he learned how to make real friends. More
importantly, he learned to think of others in his daily life.
There would be no more remorse for Harry.
This grew out
of the letters I wrote for my six
grandkids at Christmas over the years. All are grown, now. I tried to
always think of an important message for them. I think they looked
forward to my annual letter, but who knows? There was always a gift
with it and kids will be kids.
list and biography for James
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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