For Devon, on that memorable Christmas Eve in 2002. There are edits I'd make to this today, but since this is how I read it to her, this is how it remains.
I know you are all familiar with O Henry's telling of the sacrifices we make for those we love (if you haven't heard it again tonight, be patient...). That story is one of my favorite stories of all time, Christmas or otherwise. I love the variations on that story as well-- especially Bert trading his paperclip collection with Mr. Hooper for a soap dish for Rubber Duckie, while Ernie gave Rubber Duckie away in exchange for a cigar box for Bert's paperclips. Children's programming being what it is, Mr. Hooper, who was Jewish, arrived Christmas Eve in Bert and Ernie's apartment to return their treasures to them, free of charge. All is right on Sesame Street again. Love is alive.
I had the honor of witnessing a very real reenactment of this classic tale. As you all know by now, I took it upon myself to inform as many friends as I could about the shinny new washing machine now sitting in the other room. The responses were overwhelming. They came fast, they came furious, they came overflowing with emotional and financial support. Many responded by saying "let me know if you don't achieve the goal"; more than a few came with disclaimers saying "I wish I could send more...". In a week's time we had paid for the washing machine. Money is still trickling in. It's a tangible way of telling Nick and Devon how much they mean to us, individually and as a group. You can't put a price tag on a life, but you can on major appliances.
While it was amazing to receive checks for $50 or $100, the most incredible ones were the small ones. High school and college kids donating what they had. But the one I still can't think about without crying came from our very own magi. She showed up at my house one morning before work, and said "I'm giving you all the cash in my wallet It's what I told myself I would do, so here it is.". She stood next to me, gave me a few bills, and proceeded to empter her change purse. It totaled $2.68. I know this was as much as she could afford to give-- to be honest, it was more than she could afford. " Some of my best childhood memories have Nick and Devon in them..."
Christmas is about love. I believe in the poer of love, and in the goodness of people. Whether you gave hundereds of dollars or $2.68, you gave it out of love, and my life-- our lifes-- will be forever changed for witnessing it. In a wold of selfishness, in a time where extra money doesn't exist, our mailbox has been filled with generosity. What do you give to the most giving people you know? You give love, in whatever form it takes.
Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are the wisest. Everywhere they are the wisest. They are the magi.