Some Gifts Keep On Giving

What’s a gift worth anyway?

I reckon it depends on the gift. We have no idea how our wings gently flapping the wind can impact others around us. We just might be touching greatness. In us, and others.

Taken from an essay in McCalls:

The children were in agonies of indecision over which package to open next, and as I waited, I noticed that while a small stack of presents mounted beside their mother’s chair, I had received not a single one. My disappointment was growing steadily, but I tried not to show it.

They took their time.

Finally she said, “We haven’t forgotten you. Look on the tree.”

There was an envelope on the tree, addressed to me.

I opened it and read:

“You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please.
Merry Christmas.”

“What does this mean?” I asked.

“What it says,” I was told.

They assured me that it was not some sort of joke. They’d had a good year, they said. They’d saved some money and thought it was high time they did something about me.

“What do you mean, do something about me?”

To tell the truth–if I really wanted to know–they thought I had a great talent, and–

“What makes you think that?”

It was plain to anyone who knew me, they said, if anyone would stop to look. They wanted to show their faith in me the best way they knew how. Whether I ever sold a line was immaterial. They wanted to give me a full, fair chance to learn my craft, free from the harassments of a regular job. Would I accept their gift? There were no strings at all. Please accept, with their love.

It took some time to find my voice.

When I did, I asked if they were out of their minds. What made them think anything would come of this? They didn’t have that kind of money to throw away. A year was a long time. What if the children came down with something horrible?

As objection crowded upon objection, each was overruled. “We’re all young,” they said. “We can cope with whatever happens. If disaster strikes, you can always find a job of some kind.

Okay, consider it a loan, then, if you wish. We just want you to accept. Just permit us to believe in you. You must.”

“It’s a fantastic gamble,” I murmured. “It’s such a great risk.”

My friend looked around his living room, at his boys, half buried under a pile of bright Christmas wrapping paper. His eyes sparkled as they met his wife’s, and they exchanged a glance of what seemed to me insufferable smugness. Then he looked at me and said softly;

“No, honey. It’s not a risk. It’s a sure thing.”

A full, fair chance for a new life. Not given me by an act of generosity, but by an act of love. Our faith in you was really all I had heard them say. I would do my best not to fail them.

“Christmas To Me” was an essay published in McCalls in December 1961.

That was quite a gift of love.

We may not be able to offer a young writer a years worth of wages.

But, we can tell someone, “I believe in you. You’re great. You can do it.”

You can be a difference maker to others. Probably more than you know.

Today does have power. And, not just for you!

Oh yes, how clumsy of me, I almost forgot. That essay? It was written by an author who published one lone book (until recently). It happens to be in my top ten ever.

More importantly, the Pulitzer prize-winning classic has topped a World Book Day poll conducted by the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), in which librarians around the country were asked the question, “Which book should every adult read before they die?” It is near or tops several polls.

The book and author you may have heard of before… To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Live it LOUD!



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14 Responses to Some Gifts Keep On Giving

  1. Daniel L. says:

    That was nice to feel appreciated for all of the things that one achieved in a year. It is a good thing to receive something that is not materialistic thing but something to be worthy to think about. Having someone to believe in their achievement is nice. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rob says:

      Hey Daniel,

      Small or big things can impact. We can’t be sure what will bless another person. It feels good to try.
      Thanks for adding your take.

      Live it LOUD!

  2. trudy says:

    Words are the most powerful of weapons, when backed with action! 🙂 Excellent essay, thanks for sharing!

  3. Hajra says:

    I am absolutely in love with this book! I read it when I was in college and watched the movie soon after. At a literature class I did mention that TKAM should be made compulsory in school curriculum; I hope they are listening!

    • Rob says:

      Hey My Favorite Kvetcher,

      Did you know that story behind the book??? Bonus points if you did. The book and movie were exceptional. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have my kids call me Atticus (or Rob) instead of Dad. Gregory Peck in his prime.
      It’s amazing how that and so many other things happen. The flapping of a butterfly’s wing…did you feel it way over there?
      Live it LOUD! Hajra aka as the Champion 🙂

  4. manish2010 says:

    Hey Rob!
    I have watched that movie,and you have described that essay in such a realistic way that it makes my memories fresh.
    “I believe in you. You’re great. You can do it.” This phrase is so powerful,these words motivate us to tied up our shoe lases and get back to do something great for our friends and believers,to make them happy.It make us responsible to do so.
    Thank you and God Bless

    • Rob says:

      Hey Friend!

      I do believe in that phrase and tell others (especially my children) that often. I guess you could say I practice what I preach!
      We can all use a cheer leader from time to time.
      And who knows?
      We just might write a book for the ages.

      Live it LOUD!

  5. Stuart says:

    Wow, I never knew that about Harper Lee! Interesting insight into this character.

    Now, I think you’ve summed up the perfect gift there Rob! A gift that’s more than material objects, that’s more than a passing trinket which will sustain and occupy for a few weeks at best. This gift is eternal, it’s timeless, it doesn’t cost any money, and it can be given anywhere, at any time, in any place.

    I’ve got some thinking to do for Christmas now 🙂

    • Rob says:

      Ah Stuart,

      Your comments usually make me think more than posts I read! You hit exactly the point I was going after: ‘This gift is eternal, it’s timeless, it doesn’t cost any money, and it can be given anywhere, at any time, in any place.’

      Yes it can! And moreover, it should be.

      The friends of Ms. Lee wrote that book as much as she did.

      Live it LOUD!

  6. Annie Andre says:

    I knew it was a dangerous idea for me to come and visit your bog today. Every time i read one of your article, my head explodes with inspirational thoughts.
    Thank you for that.

    Today’s post couldn’t have come at a better time. I have been having some troubled times with my middle son who has a slight learning disability. He’s been very down lately because he has to work a lot harder than most and the net result is not as tangible as the results my older son gets from donig the same thing in his sleep (so to speak). I’ve been pondering over what i could do to lift his spirits, where i can take him, what to give him. But now i’ve come up with the perfect thing to lift his spirits. Just sit him down and tell him i’m proud of him and spend the day with him doing fun things with him. just him and me…

    Thanks Rob, you won’t see me online today much, because i’ll be busy..
    Cheers, Annie

    • Rob says:

      Hey Annie,

      Today Has Power!
      Like I mentioned it in a previous comment, I speak these things to my children often. With my youngest, I will even have him close his eyes and envision the story I’m telling about him (as the hero of course).
      This middle son of yours…is he the musician? It is interesting to see how different children reach levels at different times, but most, right on time. It is also interesting to see how children with slight learning disabilities may not have as much as we think (re:Edison and Einstein to name just 2 heavy hitters). With a Mother like you, he will have no choice but to be a world beater.

      You have a great plan! And this youngster will remember.

      Enjoy the day…and, keep Living it LOUD!

  7. Getting gifts for someone is not too difficult. Deciding what to get for him… they might feel uncomfortable receiving a gift worth more …. Don’t say “I will give it to you anyway” this can start an argument or worse. …

  8. Staceybeginnerbusinesswoman says:

    Hi Rob, I loved the story. I’ve been fortunate to get the summer to work on my dreams, but it is flying by. It does make a difference when people believe in you. Right now I’m surrounded by people who believe in me, and it’s helped me to step way out of my comfort zone! It’s always motivational to hear stories, such as Harper Lee’s, where in her eyes she is a regular person, but to us she is a hero! No one starts out confident and instantly successful, so there is hope for all of us who have doubts about whether we have what it takes from time to time!


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