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The Perfect Gift

Author Shelley Fraser Mickle
Air Date 12/25/2001

The Perfect Gift Transcript

It’s Christmas Day, and Shelley Fraser Mickle reminds us that some of the most precious gifts we can give are the ones that don’t cost anything. 

At this time of year, it is natural for most kids’ minds to move to the idea of gifts. In other words, when the days of Hanukkah or Christmas are near and children are mostly thinking, “What am I going to get,” and maybe a little of “What should I give Grandma, or my brother,” or, well, you get the idea. So I like to think back to the day when I watched a child receive the perfect gift. It had no sales tax, no credit card slip to allow an exchange. And I’m not going to get all soupy and tell you that it was a parent giving a child Time. In fact, we hear that all the time. And even though it might have a little of that in it, it mostly had a whole lot more. And it happened in a most unlikely place. 

I was riding on an airplane beside a young boy of, oh, around 10 or so. He was wearing cowboy boots and jeans and had a cowlick over his forehead like a hand of cards. He was sitting beside his mother, so we were wedged into our row of airplane seats like olives lined up in a bottle. Suddenly a thunderstorm broke over us and the pilot’s voice came on the microphone to tell us he was going to have to fly us to a neighboring city to land there. A bus would drive us back to the airport where at just that minute, no doubt, members of our families were waiting to meet us. Oh, what a bummer, this was! And a moan of complaint moved throughout the cabin as we realized the hours of delay we faced in getting home. 

The boy’s mother looked distressed. She said her husband would have already driven fifty miles to meet them at the airport where now they would not be lading. Her face grew tight and she slumped in her seat, and then the most amazing thing happened. The boy turned to her and began telling her stories. I don’t know where he got them or what exactly they were about. I could not hear the details. But as he talked, his mother began laughing. She laughed so hard that several times, she jokingly punched her son on the arm and cried out, “Stop, stop, I can’t take anymore!” as though he were tickling her to death and she was on her way to Heaven. 

Neither of them was aware that I was watching. But as the boy’s mother kept listening, I could see that the most wondrous light had been lit in that boy’s face. I am pretty convinced that if anything lasts at all, it is this kind of light that is eternal. And I consider it a privilege to have been there when it was given. 

Posted in Holidays, Stories