I did not realize it at the time, but, the best Christmas present I ever received was a dainty little handkerchief -- you know, the kind that a lady would keep in her purse and never use because it is so pretty.
I was 18 years old at the time. Just 18, for it was Christmas day and my birthday also. It was a bad time for my mother and money was scarce that year. I was still in high school because I missed two years and had to return. I went to school during the day and worked grave yard shift four nights a week. I never had any money for myself, did not have many clothes, and no pretty things to put in my own dresser, in fact, I did not even have my own dresser.
Anyway, that Christmas of my 18th birthday, was the first one since my parents divorced and money was very tight. Some elderly ladies from a church visited us and with kind hearts brought a gift for each of us, my Mother, my three little siblings and myself. The little ones got cute toys, I got that dainty handkerchief. I was devastated -- what was I to do with a dainty little piece of cloth I could never use? I did not even have a purse to put it in. I put it back in the box and under my mattress. When I went to bed that night, I cried from self-pity.
I had a dream that night about being alone in a strange place, with no one to care for me or love me. When I awoke in the morning, I felt so very different, not longer feeling sorry for myself. I had family who loved me, I had a home, a bed, and a lot to be proud of. I realized that I was like my Mother, that even when times are tough, you do what you have to in order to keep the family together. I realized that the little handkerchief was a message for me, it was a message of love. Love sometimes comes in little ways we do not recognize at the time.
I still have that little hankie, and I take it out of its box whenever I am feeling sorry for myself. It is the best Christmas present I have ever received.