Merry Christmas, from Ben Franklin~

Rough Christmas this year? Yeah, I’ve had some of those too. Our hardest came the year my husband had been out of work for eleven months. We were down to eating what we could grow in our backyard garden. The kids were sick of spinach and beets and tomatoes. But Christmas had always been such a special time for us, and I just couldn’t bear to let it go.

For Thanksgiving our church had brought us a gift box filled with a turkey and all the fixings. I found a twenty dollar bill tucked between the cranberry sauce and the stuffing mix. We feasted on that delicious turkey, and I hid twenty away to save for Christmas.

We knew a couple who owned a Christmas tree farm, so I got up my courage to ask if they might have a reject tree they would sell us cheap. They did.  It was small and leaned to the side, but to us it was lovely.

Twenty dollars for Christmas gifts.  I went to the local thrift store and bought my husband a shirt, my daughter a sweater, and a sweatshirt for my son. Next door, I got each of them their favorite candy bar for their stocking.

Only three dollars left.

A sudden inspiration hit me. I hurried to our local library and rifled through a huge selection of donated books—paperbacks: 15 cents each or four for a dollar. I bought twelve.

Our tradition has always been to label the wrapped gift from some name that would give a hint to what’s in the gift without giving away what the gift is. (For instance, a checked flannel shirt might be from Paul Bunyan.) So on each individually wrapped book I put a tag with the recipient’s name, then from Ben Franklin. (We do have him to thank for our public libraries, after all!)

My expectations for that lean Christmas morning were slim. But an amazing thing happened–everyone loved it! We all spent the day nibbling our favorite candy bars and reading by a crackling fire.

When my kids talk about their favorite Christmases, guess which one is always at the top of the list? Right!  And still today, years later, every Christmas someone gets a gift from Ben Franklin.  Just because he was there when we needed him.

“I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things.”

Benjamin Franklin



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6 responses to “Merry Christmas, from Ben Franklin~

  1. Fabulous post, Kay. What a treasure a book can still be.
    Have a very Merry Christmas!

  2. Jeanette

    I love this post! Isn’t it amazing how we end up treasuring those holidays that could have so easily been a bummer? My family still talks about the year when a December 20th appendicitis attack (me) and a Christmas Eve snow storm altered our plans. The kids remember it as the year that we went to a movie on Christmas Day.
    Have a Merry Christmas!
    Love, Jeanette

  3. So true! Those are the years that make memories–some better than others.
    Blessed Christmas to you, Jeanette.

  4. Jean

    Beautiful, as usual, Kay…what a lovely story showing the true meaning of Christmas giving–not the gifts but the meaning and love behind them. Wishing you and Dan and family a blessed, joyous Christmas, dear one.
    With love, Jean

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