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THE EMPTY GIFT


"I was enjoying 1st grade to the fullest until one day in December when the little girl behind me set "it" on her desk. It was the tiniest Christmas present imaginable, less than an inch on each side with white glossy paper tied up with a sliver of red cellophane. Immediately I was captivated. I had never seen anything so exquisite. Day after day the tiny gift caught my eye, and my active imagination tried to guess what miniature treasure might be inside. It had to be something wondrous beyond description.


I longed for that object with all the power a 5-year-old can muster. Finally, I became convinced that it should be mine. I deserved it because I desired it. Since I rode an early bus to school, it was a simple matter to slip into the empty classroom one morning. My hands eagerly tore open the tiny present. Inside I found - nothing.


Staring at the destruction in my hand, anticipation dissolved into disappointment and confusion. Gradually my stunned mind grasped the fact that the little package had been nothing more than a hollow decoration. I sat at my desk with the empty paper and an empty feeling, sickened by the knowledge of my guilt.


Little did I know that morning that this scene would repeat itself many times in my life. As I grew up the world enticed me with all sorts of shiny, gaily wrapped "presents" that caught my eye and promised happiness. Too often, when I accepted what the world was offering and tore away the wrappings, my excited expectations were replaced by feelings of emptiness. Over and over I found myself proving the old cliché: "You can’t judge a gift by its wrapping."


SOURCE: by Dianne Matthews. This article appeared in Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2000.

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