67. The Magic in Giving

67. The Magic in Giving

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!

The Magic in Giving

Sometimes a small thing you do can mean everything in another person’s life.

~Author Unknown

“I don’t care about the other dresses, only the jumper,” I snipped at my mother, who flashed me her warning look.

“You’ve got plenty of dresses you can wear. Besides, it was your sister’s jumper and it barely fit her; I’m sure it would have been too snug on you,” she replied. My mother was right. It was too tight, but I figured I could get away with wearing it once.

Considering there was the slightest chance that the jumper was still in our house, I continued to badger my mother. “But she promised I could borrow it for my Christmas program,” I whined. “I’ve always loved that jumper! How could you give it away?”

“I’m sorry,” she said, patting my back in a motherly fashion. “I didn’t know about your plans. Now try to remember that Christmas is about the magic of giving. When you give, you receive.” Luckily for me, I received the condensed version of Mom’s lecture on giving. She turned to leave, then paused. “By the way, you know the rules,” she reminded me. “If you see someone wearing your dresses, you’re not to mention it. And you are not to discuss it with your friends. Is that clear?”

“Yes,” I replied. “But who has it now?”

“Someone who needed it much more than you did,” she answered. “Now, we’re finished. I don’t want to hear another word about it.”

Back in my room, I fought back the tears. My mother routinely gave away our outgrown dresses, but this was different. I had coveted that black-velvet jumper ever since I first saw it. Not only that, but the dress was store-bought, not homemade like most of my clothing. She had even given away the silky-white blouse that went with it.

The evening of my Christmas program I remained sullen as my parents dropped me off at my classroom. Of course I couldn’t help but envy the few girls — clothed like princesses — parading around in their velvet dresses. Unfortunately it put a damper on the whole evening and made me wish the night were over. When the teacher finally shouted, “Quiet class; it’s time to line up,” a feeling of relief swept over me.

As we shuffled into line, our chattering voices once again reached a deafening crescendo. The teacher attempted to quiet us, but to no avail. Moments later, the door opened and a sudden hush fell over the room as a beautiful girl entered.

Her long, blond hair swirled in gorgeous curls that shimmered against the rich, darkness of her black-velvet jumper. Against her naturally tanned complexion, her blouse appeared whiter and richer than when my sister had worn it. Her face glowed in ecstasy and I checked twice to make sure it was her. Honestly, the transformation was stunning. Even dressed in black velvet, she looked like an angel straight from heaven.

After a few minutes everyone finished gawking and we proceeded down the hall to the auditorium. As we walked, my mind drifted back to the first week of school. She was a newer student, bussed to our school from the overcrowded city schools. Unfortunately the popular girls had poked fun at her because she had worn the same plain clothing each week. However, the cutest boy in our class had confided in me that she could be the most beautiful girl in our grade if only she dressed better. As we waited to go on stage, I noticed whispers and eye rolling coming from a few girls. I left my place in line and walked over to her. “You look absolutely beautiful,” I said to her and I meant it. “I love your velvet jumper! It’s gorgeous!”

“Thank you,” she meekly replied, obviously unaware that the jumper had once belonged to my sister. “It’s an early Christmas present. I’ve never had anything this beautiful before,” she said, lovingly running her fingers over the rich fabric, affectionately stroking it as if it were a fluffy kitten or dog. As I studied her glowing face, I realized that I had seen her smile a million times before, but never like this. She positively beamed — particularly in a spiritual sense. As a result, the joy I felt as I watched her brought such a grand smile to my own face that my lips twitched and my cheeks ached, from using muscles I had never used before.

As I watched my beautiful classmate, I was completely unprepared for the sincere, warm, fuzzy emotions that I felt. I honestly felt as if a song had entered my heart. My mother’s simple gift of giving had obviously transformed me, too.

In truth, my mother had been right. Not only had my beautiful classmate needed that dress more than I did, but there was a wonderful magic in giving. And even though I wasn’t the one who had done the giving, I received the joy as I watched my mother’s gift continue throughout the school year as one timid girl — dressed in our hand-me-down dresses — continued to grow and blossom into a graceful, confident person.

~Jill Burns

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