Heart Over Gifts

January 18, 2011
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Why all of sudden do we have to start a limitation on gifts for Christmas?
This was the first thought that came into my mind when my parents said we were going to look at the true meaning of Christmas and not spend so much money on gifts. This was like losing a favorite toy I had always cherished.

My brothers all received gifts until they were practically 20, and I am going to be cut short at 16? What a rip off.
It was a Tuesday, and my friends said they were going to sign up for “Read To Me”, a program where volunteers have the opportunity to read to homeless children. When we went to sign up, the Interact director, (Interact is a community service club at our school), said it was filled up. Fortunately, we were able to squeeze in because she had the “big bus.” Fantastic, will have something to do tomorrow.

“Okay, well we will see you at 5:30 today ladies!” exclaimed my teacher.

My eyebrows scrunched up, “Wait, 5:30 today? I thought it was tomorrow!”

They chuckled, “No Natalie it’s today, come on now.”

Okay I mean TODAY I will have something fun to do and be able to acquire some more community service hours.

About three hours later, everyone, well everyone but one, loaded up onto the bus. My friend, the one we were waiting for, was “almost there” for 10 minutes when she finally showed up and we headed off for the shelter.

When we arrived we signed in, and we were given a brief orientation. They told us they had no name tags for us, but the children were supposed to be arriving shortly. My friend and I selected a place on the floor and eagerly waited like child anticipating Christmas. Finally they showed up and they ambled in, searching for a reader.

A little girl with shoulder length black hair and an intense expression unhurriedly walked in. She glanced around and she gave me heartwarming smile which I returned. She came over and parked herself beside me.

On her name tag it said she was nine years old and her name was Sharlene.

She was gazing down and had a small smile on her face.

“So your names Sharlene? That’s a pretty name.” I invited.

“Yes, thank you.”

Her eyes searched my shirt looking for the name tag I did not have.

“Hey where’s your tag like mine?” she wondered.

“Well they didn’t give us one but my name is Natalie.” I explained.

“Oh. Well I’m gonna find a book!” she boasted.

She searched for one until she found a pray book for children. She had me read it and then I noticed there was not a sound from her. She was sitting there looking out to the room.

“I tried to pray but it didn’t work. I think I need to close my eyes.” She calmly stated.
I smiled and laughed to myself. I liked this little girl. She had a personality. She said again that she was going to get another book.

She rummaged around, pulled one out, and handed it to me. It was a Christmas book. I opened it up to start reading it I couldn’t read it, I had to sing it. “We wish you a Merry Christmas…!” Uh-oh. Thankfully when I “sang” the first line, she said we could just look at the pictures. I chuckled.

As we were looking at them I asked her if she wanted anything for Christmas.

“Mmm, I don’t want nothing for Christmas.” She nonchalantly stated continuing to look at the pictures.

“Well why don’t want anything for Christmas?” I questioned.

“Cause I want my little brothers to get what they want. If I get something what they get is not as much.” She humbly said.

From a nine year old girl this was shocking. No Barbie, no scooter, no doll, nothing. This whole time I had been pawning over why I was not going to get much and here this is a nine year old girl saying she doesn’t want anything because she wanted her little brothers to have gifts.

“That is really sweet of you Sharlene.” I stated.

“Well I guess.” She said with confusion.

It seemed so natural for her to say it and it did not even bother her. We continued on with our reading and laughed and had very relaxing time.

From that moment on I told myself I needed to appreciate what I have. If a nine year old could give up all gifts then I accept my parent’s decision. I needed to be just like her. She did not have everything I have in life and she still saw the better. I knew I must be grateful for everything I have in my life because some people do not have it. I didn’t realize it until a nine year old girl had a better perspective on life than I did.

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