It was the Christmas of 1984. I'd been away from Orwell, Vermont for a year. The town I called home was over 12,000 miles away and Christmas day was growing nearer. As a young soldier, not having gained enough rank to be making much money at the time, I was limited in what I could do for my mother (God Rest Her Soul), to make her Christmas a happy one. My younger brother Willie was now serving as well so the two eldest of her five children were in different areas of the globe.
Out on a ten mile run on the island of Okinawa a thought occurred to me. I won't send presents I'll just make a nice gesture and then someday I'll tell mom about it.
I placed an order for 50 personalized Christmas cards. Each of the cards I sent to a different senior citizen around the town of Orwell. All those elderly people I had known as a youngster growing up there received a card from me. Old Clarence Munger, probably in his 80s or more at the time was tickled when he got my card and I mentioned how I had missed him waving from his garden as I'd be on a long run by his house just as the sun would be coming up. Many others, too numerous to mention, saw my mom at church that Christmas day and went up to her telling her what a wonderful thing her son had done. The postmaster himself, in the town of 900 recognized the similarity of the origin of each card he delivered. He saw my mother in the post office and she later told me that her heart pounded with pride each time someone told her what I had done.
I received a letter from her shortly after Christmas and she said that was the greatest gift she had ever received from me.
If times are tough, and there isn't enough money to purchase a material gift for someone, do something that will cheer them. Make them happy in some way, and following that gesture of good will, simply respond, "Merry Christmas!" There is no greater gift than a gift of happiness. Who can you make happy this year?