It’s Christmas Eve, and my wife and I were wrapping the last few presents to put under the tree. When I went out the front door to fetch something from our van, I noticed this white envelope on our front porch with the words “To: Mr. And Mrs. Aguilar Merry Christmas!” I showed it to my wife, and we opened it. One hundred dollars in five raggedy $20 bills! “Who’s it from?” we mused. Could it be from Joseph, our 13-year-old? He worked over the summer to earn some money for camp while saving the rest, so that was a probability. But we weren’t sure. It was nice for someone to mysteriously leave us some money like that, though. So I placed the money back into the envelope, placed the envelope on the small table by the front door, finished our gift wrapping, and went to bed.
Christmas morning. Joseph was busy working on breakfast for the family. I decided to help him with the fried rice while he worked on the sugared ham and eggs. When I went into the pantry to get something, he comes into the pantry and hands me a familiar-looking white envelope and says, “Dad, I found this outside on the front porch.” Then, he steps out while I “look quizzically” (wink! wink!) at the envelope. When I step out of the pantry, he asks, “What’s in it, Daddy?”
“$100,” I reply.
“Who’s it from?” he asks.
“Not sure, son. Not sure,” I say.
“Hmm,” he says. “Let’s show Mama.”
So, we go upstairs to show my wife. I whispered to her, “Joseph says he got this white envelope outside on our porch. It has a hundred dollars in it.” She was a bit more direct than I was when she said, “Kuya (Joseph’s name at home), did you do this?” He smiled…not wanting to smile…and said, “No. I didn’t.” A little tickling from Mama ensued, as did the persistent questioning, “Did you do this?” “No” was his reply every time…but you could see from his face that he was trying hard to play it up.
My wife and I learned that he played a part in the white envelope. Yes, it came from him.
But that’s not the end of the story!
Later on, Joseph tells me that Seth, our 11 year old son, started it all. It was really his idea. He got $40 from his own savings, $40 from Joseph, and Sam (9 yrs old) gave $20 as well. Joseph said that it was fun to give that money. Our boys. Our sons. They gave their Mother and Father $100 from their own pockets!
But that’s not the end of the story, either!
Under the Christmas tree were the typically wrapped presents…and many white envelopes…from one sibling to another and from a child to a parent. Our children were giving each other…and us!… money from their savings. A stack of coins. A few dollars. Even a $20 bill! And they were thrilled to give to each other!
This past year was a difficult one for us. Many times throughout the year, our children would hear from us, “We don’t have enough money” for whatever it was…whether it was for frivolities and trifles, or for what we needed most. Still, we managed to have a modest abundance under the tree, even if it was just a few presents for each child.
That didn’t matter though. Somehow, our children sensed our lack of funds, and they generously gave from the abundance they felt they had in their own pockets. It was the “widow’s mite” of Christmas, if you will. Because they had, they gave…and they gave freely, willingly.
My wife and I were blessed this Christmas. My wife’s generosity has spilled over into our children, and I, once again, find myself surrounded by generous hearts and tender spirits.
My wife and I found more than $100 inside that white envelope. We found a treasure trove of generosity in our children.
We are truly rich, indeed.