The Best Christmas Present I NEVER Received
I remember when I was very young, my parents and I went to the grocery store and purchased $100.00+ worth of food. Back then it would fill two grocery carts. On the very top of one of the grocery bags was a large bag of M&M's that I specifically picked for myself during our shopping trip. (I came from a low/middle income family so $100.00 was a good sum of money and a treat like a big bag of M&M's was definitely special).
Anyway, it was Christmas Eve and during our drive home from the store, I noticed that we were going through, lets say "the VERY LESS fortunate part of town". My parents asked me if I could pick a house during our drive that I thought was a little "less fortunate" than all the rest. We drove around for a while and I said "there, that one!". I don't remember much about the house except the front porch and roof looked like it was about to collapse.
So we stopped, got out, and grabbed a few bags of groceries that we had just purchased. My Mom specifically handed me the grocery sack with my big bag of M&M's sticking out the top. As a child, I really did not understand what was going on or what we were doing, but in our family you did not question your parents about anything.
We slowly walked up to the house and as we stepped on the front porch I remember thinking this is going to fall on us. My Dad knocked on the door and a single man answered the door just barely enough to look out and talk to my Dad. My Dad explained that we had just come from the store and we were here to give them everything we had purchased as a present. Slowly, the man opened the door. From another room the man's wife hesitantly came to the door. My Dad asked me to hand my bag of groceries to the lady. As soon as I walked up to the front door, 3 children, 2 boys about 8 or 9 years old and 1 girl about 6 years old came running out.
This next part happened over four decades ago, but I remember it as clearly as if it happened yesterday. That much smaller little girl pushed her 2 bigger brothers out of the way and ran out on the porch to grab MY bag of M&M's. Bearing a big smile and huge bright eyes, she immediately tucked that bag of M&M's under her shirt, ran back into the house, into a room, and slammed the door shut.
After several trips back and forth from the car to the house delivering the rest of the food we chatted. The receiving family offered to us to come in, but my parents graciously declined and we departed with the words "Merry Christmas".
On the drive home, my parents explained to me how in life there will always be people who will have more than you and there will people who will have less than you. If you concentrate your life's focus on those with more, life will be filled with disappointment, anger and a feeling of resentment. If you focus on helping people that are less fortunate than you, your life will be filled with happiness, achievement, and gratification. I didn't really understand everything that was being told to me at the time. I was still sad/mad that I did not get my big bag of M&M's. I did get nicer than usual presents the following Christmas day even tho I can't remember any of them now. I found out later my Dad had received an unexpected Christmas bonus from his boss.
As a child then, to now a senior adult, those words spoken to me by my parents on that drive home ring true each day. One of those “fork in the road life decisions”. I chose early to live with the satisfaction of helping others to the best of my ability. I continue to do it through the excitement I saw on that little girl's face which lives on in my heart.
So over the past couple of decades when anyone asks me "what was your favorite Christmas present you remember getting as a kid?" I respond by saying let me tell you a story about "a bag of M&M's"