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.
“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!