It was Jane Smith‘s favorite time of year: Christmas! She loved to see the city decorated with colorful lights, the crowded streets of London, England, with people rushing to buy gifts, the smell of Christmas trees… and most of all, she liked the idea of Santa Claus gliding through the air in his sleigh, bringing wonderful Christmas gifts.
Jane thought about the gifts she would like to receive: a toy train, a bicycle, a big teddy bear,…. The list was endless! Last year she had received everything she had asked for. Suddenly, Jane thought of something. “Santa brings gifts to everyone, but does he ever receive any?” she wondered. “Everyone thinks about the gifts they would like to receive from Santa and no one remembers to buy him a gift,” Jane thought sadly.
“I will change all that. I’ll get a gift for Santa” and so Jane set out in search for just the right gift that would make Santa happy. At first she thought a nice tie would do, but then she remembered that Santa doesn’t wear a tie. Then she thought of a music tape, but then she realized she didn’t know what kind of music Santa enjoyed. Pretty soon, Jane ran out of ideas for Santa’s gift.
There was only one thing left to do! On Christmas Eve, Jane sneaked down and waited for Santa to come and leave the presents under the Christmas Tree. She would ask him what kind of present he wanted, so she’d have it waiting for him next year. Soon she heard noises from the chimney and suddenly Santa appeared.
Jane became very excited. “Hello, Santa!” she cried. Santa turned around, surprised to see her.
“Hi Jane, I thought you were sleeping. What are you doing up so late?” he asked.
Jane felt a bit embarrassed. “I was waiting for you. You bring gifts to everyone and you never receive any in return, so I wanted to ask you what kind of gift you would like, so that I could get it for you for next Christmas,” answered Jane.
Santa was very touched. “Oh, Jane,” he said. “Thank you for thinking of me, but you see, a lot of children have already given me gifts,” he went on.
Jane was rather disappointed. She had thought that she was the only one who had thought of Santa.
“You see, Jane, Christmas is a time for giving and sharing, so, I watch the whole year and at Christmas time I bring gifts to all the children that have been
giving and sharing throughout the year,” Santa explained.
“Do you mean that every time I share a candy bar with John, Mark and Mary, I get a point in your book?” asked Jane. Santa smiled. “Yes, but giving is much more than that. If your friend has a problem and asks you to come and talk to him, which you do, that is one of the most valuable gifts you can give. Especially if you cancel all other plans and drop everything you are doing just to be there for him. That is giving of your time,” Santa answered.
“I never thought about it that way,” Jane admitted.
“When your mom has had a really hard day, you can help her by washing the dishes, or dusting the living room. That is giving of your understanding and effort. It might not be a straight-forward kind of present, but she will appreciate it even more,” Santa said.
Jane nodded. She was beginning to understand.
”If your dad falls asleep on the couch,” Santa went on,” and you bring a blanket to cover him so that he doesn’t get cold, you are giving him your love and care,” said Santa.
Jane was thoughtful. “I never thought of all that as giving,” she said.
“But it is! It is the most important way of giving. If you give someone a glass as a gift, it will eventually break, but if you give them your time, love, care and
understanding, they will always have it,” Santa explained.”You see, Jane, you thought about me and you cared enough to want to buy me a gift.
By doing that, you have given me the best gift of all – your love and care. I could never ask for anything more,” Santa said, looking at Jane lovingly. “Now, here’s my bag full of gifts. Choose anything you like!”
Santa opened his bag and Jane happily chose her gifts.