One Gift

She’d turned it over in her mind for months. She was allowed to give one gift. Cost was no object, but it was the only gift she would be allowed to give ever again. Just one gift.

She’d gotten the message in her mailbox on a sweltering August day. The envelope was sealed with gold leaf and the writing was in excellent calligraphy. Choose a gift for the letter writer’s choice of recipient. She might never know who, might never meet the person, but would know he received the gift. At first, she’d dismissed it as someone’s effort to amuse himself. Maybe it was some sort of game show, and she was the only one not in on the joke. Why her? Why had she been singled out? She wasn’t anyone special. But as the days cooled and no other message arrived, she began to consider the project. If this was a real offer – responsibility, really – she shouldn’t pass on it. One gift. Any amount of money could be spent and would be made available as required.

Money no object? She could dismiss the usual gifts of clothing or nearly anything else found in the mall. Technology? Now there was an idea. A person could do things with the newest gadget. But technology was always changing. Who would want something that would be obsolete within a year or two? Ditto for vehicles of all kinds.

She didn’t dismiss books as readily as someone else might. A book – the right book – could elevate thinking. Why, it could change a life if a person took the author’s premise to heart. Maybe she could give a first edition. Hmm.

Real estate was a great alternative. You can’t go wrong with real estate despite market trends, because that was just it. If the price fell, it could as easily rise after enough time. A house? Maybe an estate. What was she thinking?! She could buy an entire island. Who wouldn’t want their own private island? No one she could think of.

She could arrange for tuition and room and board at a university. Of course, not knowing the recipient, she couldn’t be certain such a thing would be appreciated nor even useful.

Or a vacation somewhere! Really. Didn’t everyone need, or, at least, want a vacation? France, Greece, Paris in the spring . . .

She supposed she could buy stock. Didn’t rich people do that type of thing? Stock could make someone a millionaire. Or not.

Days and weeks passed. She researched. She wandered around the neighborhood wondering about the letter-writer and then thinking about the gift recipient. Leaves changed color and fell. Icy weather settled in. She sipped cocoa and looked out the window, thinking. Wondering. Turning it over in her mind. One gift. Only one and then, never again.

And it was Christmas Eve, the date given to reveal her choice. Despite the crunchy snow underfoot, she walked to the mailbox and deposited her choice within. It was a small manila envelope with two 2-inch symbols and a letter inside. It read:

Dear Gift Recipient:

I’ve spent a lot of time – make that an enormous amount of time – wondering what to give you. I finally concluded that, of all the things available the world over, my choice is the best one. It’s small and great at the same time.

I hope you like it. I hope you will accept it.

Cost: Me – nothing. Him – everything. You – pending.


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