The first gift we ever received

was a gift no-one had to buy

It was the gift of life…

Have you ever wondered why?


Why was I given this gift?

How did I come to be?

and what did the giver of this gift…have in mind for me?


This gift was also given to the mountains and the seas

to the animals

to the rivers

to the flowers and the trees.


This gift was given freely

asking for nothing in return

So what are we to understand from this?

What are we to learn?


Since we all received the same gift 

perhaps the giver wanted us to see

how we are all connected and meant to live in harmony.


Since one moment we are not here

and the next moment we are living…

perhaps the giver wanted us to see

a gift is in the giving


And perhaps by giving a gift we never asked for

the giver of life suggested

the best gift we can ever give


is a gift that’s un-requested.

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One of the great things about living, has to do with a thing called giving

for it is incumbent on all of us to believe

That as the saying goes…through life’s highs and through life’s lows

It is as wonderful to give…as to receive.


In this life we live it is quite easy for us to give

for giving with grace is our nature I believe

But when the gift is given to us…we often don’t know what to do…and thus 

We must also learn, with grace, how to receive


Coming home after a North Carolina stay…we’d been driving most of the day

anticipating as to when we would get back

when it was time to make a stop at a little gas station with a shop…

time to rest, gas up and buy some snacks.


With the tank filled up with gas it was time now to amass

snacks we would devour in the car

when we had a quick encounter with the clerk behind the counter

as she noticed in my hand…a candy bar.


She said, “I have a candy bar for lunch…it is a Nestle’s Crunch

but we don’t sell them in this store.”

I said, “Oh what I wouldn’t do for a Nestle’s Crunch bar too.”

as it is also a candy bar that I adore.


She did not lolly gag, she turned, reached in a bag

and in a moment she was finished with her search…

she handed two Nestle’s Crunches to me and said that they were free

she said she gets them when she goes to church.


We offered at once to pay…she said no they’re free today

there is nothing more you need to do

she looked me in the eye…smiled, said goodbye

then said, “Think of it as a gift from me to you.”


We thanked her walked away and then…

we turned and thanked her once again

her smile showed she truly understood

and I think it’s fair to say…that as we drove away


no candy bar I ever ate tasted as good.

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In a world where we adults increasingly ignore the cries of people who beseech us…

perhaps it’s time to look to our children…who in their innocence…can teach us. 


Her mom is a nursing home nurse…helping her patients remain healthy and strong

while Ruby, her inquisitive daughter…is happy to tag along.


One day Ruby with pen and pad in hand…and filled with curiosity

began asking patients: if you could have any three things…

what would those three things be.


Ruby thought their dreams would be big…like money or diamond rings

and was surprised when what they asked for…were only little things.


Yes, the residents of the nursing homes were resolute…steadfast…undaunted

electric razors, new shoes, avocados, and Vienna sausages were all they wanted.


What started out as a curiosity…by the time young Ruby was through

became a quest, a need a desire…to make their wishes come true.


So now as her mom takes care of their physical needs in various nursing homes and towns

Ruby’s busy fulfilling their wishes while writing other ones down.


Ruby’s learned Vienna sausages, new shoes and electric razors can help to brighten a mood

but it’s really not about the razors, 

the clothing 

or the food.


Because as they receive her treasures …not only is their faith in humanity restored…

but at 11 years old Ruby understands…how giving has its own rewards.


And it should restore our faith in humanity as well…

for in a world where stones of hatred, animosity and divisiveness abound

isn’t it wonderful knowing…


there are still Ruby’s to be found?

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And, yes, your hands are cold


Walking past I don't judge so well,

A lonely female, standing for a no-show friend,

But I see more clearly,

The 'Big Issue' your arms are gripping

As I'm rebounding along,


For my failure to recognise, I am compulsed to heed

And stride toward,

this erstwhile Jesus

Awaiting in the vision's edge.


- Did you need anything to eat?

- No.

- No, off course not.- No hand is free to hold,

And I see lined eyes

knowing brighter foreign skies,

But the palm empty pushes forth,

backed by devine grace, needs proper filling, 

Not worthless coinage that weighs the crate

And commit to my noted change.


You thank me with God on your lips, over and over,

For a kindness I feel I don't deserve or can own,

Your tiny face harboured under layers of clothes,

Our fingers, our times entwine,

Even though I prepared for what was to be,

I am shocked.

And, yes, your hands are cold.

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She was always giving

always accepting, 

always compassionate 

and kind.

She was love 

and sympathy 

and caring 

and charity 



Whenever we would thank her

she would hold us close 

and she would whisper in our ear…

Isn’t that the reason dear…


the reason we’re all here?

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He had worked hard for this moment…

He’d been focused…driven…undaunted

He’d reached a point in his life

where he could give his daughter anything she wanted…


He proudly asked her to make a Christmas wish list.

She wrote…focused…driven…undaunted

hoping ‘Santa’ would be able to bring her 

the one thing she ever wanted.


She finished quickly…her list was short…at first he wondered why

Once he read it he closed his eyes…then he began to cry…


‘Dear Santa’, it read, ’this Christmas ‘all I’m looking for…

I want to be with Daddy…I want to see him more.’


And as he clutched that letter to his heart

he realized what he should be working for…

and that Christmas he made a vow 

to be with his daughter more.


That Christmas she unwrapped an envelope

with a letter inside that read:

‘I promise to be home for dinner every night

I promise to tuck you into bed.’


‘I promise to spend more time with you…

I promise I will find a way.

I promise starting this Christmas

to spend much less time away.’


And so he did…he gave his daughter

a gift that didn’t cost a dime…

He gave her exactly what she wanted

He gave his love…he gave her time.


Yes, she got her wish that Christmas

and lived ever after…happily

and through the magic of a Christmas wish



so did he.

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Her only wish that year was to have a Christmas tree…

for she lived where no trees grew…

“I do not wish it to be very big,” she said

“a little one would do.”


She had been sick for a while and her children were bereft…

wanting to make her wish come true

not knowing how many Christmases she had left…


So one day off they went…leaving their tiny home by the sea

and walked until they came to a place

of winter snow…

and Christmas trees.


Halfway up a mountain they stopped…they knew their search was done.

Their mom’s little tree sat in a clearing…illuminated by the sun.


They told the little tree about their mom…about their tiny house by the sea

and asked if she would be so kind…as to become their Christmas tree.


The little tree stood tall…at least as tall as a little tree could.

Would I like to be your Christmas tree?…she said. 

“Of course…

of course I would.”


Tenderly they cut her down…and carried her to their tiny house by the sea

and when their mother woke up that Christmas morning…

she awoke to her Christmas tree.


Their mom recovered fully…and is to this day content…

happy as can be

and she tells her children the best gift she ever received…

was that little Christmas tree…


But when she thinks about it…

when to that Christmas her mind drifts…

she understands the the importance of that tree

but she knows 

the journey


was their gift.

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As the season of giving approaches…as we hope for Christmas snow

I’m reminded of a Christmas gift …given to my ex-wife years ago.


We were teaching in the same school…when she unwrapped one of her student’s mother’s bras

and as she held it up for all to see…we went from shock…to awe.


We weren’t sure what to think at first…we didn’t have an inkling

as to what this present meant…as to what this mother could be thinking…


But then we paused a moment…and realized our thinking small.

This family was poor and it was wonderful…she gave anything at all.


She didn’t have the money for anything fancy…no cars or boats or furs

So wanted to give a gift that meant a lot…and was personal to her.


A way to show this teacher…she makes a difference every day

so…to show that she supports her…she gave her bra away.


It’s ironic how a simple gift…isn’t as simple as it appears…

How a gift we first thought funny…can change our laughter into tears….


How a gesture can stay with us…to remind us each day we’re living


sometime the gift is unimportant……because the gift is in the giving.

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Gabi didn’t start out meaning to feed the crows…

didn’t know, then, of their gratitude.

She was just a little girl who was prone to dropping food.


As she walked to the school bus invariably she would drop part of her snack

which nearby crows would eat…and the next day would come back.


Eventually Gabi began taking extra snacks and causing quite a fuss

as she fed her crows on her way every day to and from the bus.


Gabi enjoyed this so much (obviously so did the crows)

that she started filling the bird bath in her back yard 

and laying peanuts out in rows.


The crows would happily eat the peanuts then back to her yard they would sneak

leaving trinkets behind for Gabi…shiny trinkets that would fit in their beaks


They have also leave her screws and pins and paper clips

as well as little animals that are no longer living…

but Gabi doesn’t mind these at all 

she knows

the gift is in the giving.


How wonderful that a little girl, a murder of crows

and the little presents they leave each other

can show the world how every creature

should be more like sisters and brothers.


Can show the rest of the us on this planet

by the presents they each leave

(wether it’s peanuts, dead animals or paper clips)


it is in the giving that we receive.

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