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The Wishing Tree Gift

An odd gift request from a little boy in need reminds us of the true meaning of holiday giving.

alarm clock

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. I Corinthians 10:24 (RSV)

It was such a strange wish among all the SpongeBob and PlayStation requests on the Wishing Tree that the store had on display. I’d stuffed it into my purse without even looking at it; I was running like crazy this year, what with my extra holiday job at a local diner. Still, I wanted to keep to my tradition of buying a present for Brian, whose name and age (seven) were on the tag.

Late again, I screeched to a halt in front of the toy store, raced in and buttonholed an already harried clerk. I hadn’t had time to look at the tag, so now I glanced at it and said, “I need an . . . alarm clock?” Confused, I asked, “Is that the name of a toy?”

The clerk looked puzzled. “Not that I know. And I think I’ve heard them all.”

I made a hurried call to the crisis center, the ones who supplied the names for the tree. A woman sighed and explained, “Brian has to depend on himself to get himself up.”

“Wouldn’t his parents wake him up?”

“Not all of the parents get up themselves. They’re either sick or drunk or addicted.”

“I see,” I said, asking God to cover in prayer this child I’d chosen, this child who was responsible enough to ask for an alarm clock so that he could get to school on time.

I’d give Brian an alarm clock—and a fun puzzle—as a holiday gift. And I’d give myself the gift of living without a schedule for a few days while I said a prayer for Brian, a boy I’d never meet.

Dear God, just as You are gracious enough to fulfill my needs, thank You for using me to fulfill a need for someone else this year.

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