At her small school in central Maine, there were two classes for each grade: the children who got good grades, wore nice clothes and whose parents were in the PTA, and the kids who were in the slow class, and got poor grades. She remembers the day when Marlene Crocker was transferred to the smarter class. As she waited for the teacher to assign her a seat, the whispers began, “She’s not sitting beside me!”
One day, Jenna and her Mom were driving along a wooded back road that they seldom took when she saw a tar paper shack back in a big field littered with rusty cars. Then she saw Marlene hanging out clothes.
Christmas arrived, and the time came for the class to draw names to exchange presents. Marlene drew Jenna’s name, and Jenna felt cheated. As the day came to open presents, everyone gathered around Jenna to see what pitiful present Marlene had bought her. Marlene gave her a wallet made out of deerskin by her father, and Jenna thanked Marlene.
Years went by, and Jenna went to high school and college, losing contact with most of her childhood schoolmates. She heard rumors of Marlene dropping out of school to help her mother, that she had married young and started a family.
One day, she came across the white doeskin wallet Marlene had given her. She took it out and studied the intricate craftsmanship, then noticed a small piece of paper she had never seen before. The paper said, “To my best friend.” Every year, Jenna takes this gift out at Christmastime. She told her small son the story of how she got that wallet. He said, “Of all the gifts, that was the goodest gift, wasn’t it?”
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