It is not easy always for people to understand the significance of a gift, or the sacrifices that went behind it.
Two students shared a room in college. After returning from the Christmas' winter break, Andrew asked his roommate what presents he has received for Christmas.
Tom, coming from a well-to-do family, was excited and began to tell him about the new clothes, the best-selling books, the popular running shoes and all the other items on the list of precious gifts given me by family and friends. Andrew was somewhat impressed, pleased at his friend had so many gifts. "So, Andrew, what did you get for Christmas?" Tom asked.
Expecting to hear his wonderful list of presents, Andrew was quiet for a moment and then said softly, holding up but one small item, an alarm clock that probably cost less than $5 at the thrift shop.
"That's nice," Tom answered, feeling almost embarrassed to have asked. He wasn't expecting this, and felt glad that he hand not received such a present, seemingly so small and insignificant.
As roommates often do during late nights of studies, Tom would sometimes tease Andrew by pretending to throw that clock into the air and then catch it right before it hit the ground, and sometimes faking a drop of his precious clock. But Andrew never thought this game was funny, because his clock meant much more to him than Tom ever understood.
Over the years in college, as Andrew moved from room to room and roommate to roommate, he always had that same inexpensive alarm clock stored closely beside his bed.
You see, back home in West Virginia, Andrew's family was far from wealthy and the only present his parents could afford to give him for Christmas was that simple, unimpressive clock. What seemed like garage sale material for some families was a family treasure for Andrew.
After four years, both Tom and Andrew graduated from college. They happened to meet 13 years later. Tom says he cannot remember a single present he received for Christmas that year in college. And you know something? He said, "For the rest of my life, I will never forget Andrew's gift - the simple, inexpensive alarm clock. While the presents I received were more elegant, more expensive and certainly more numerous, that one single present from Andrew's parents was definitely more precious."
(From a sermon by Christian Cheong, His Birthday Wish, 1/9/2011)
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