Giving Yourself A Gift

She waited until she thought no one would notice, then the woman stepped up to the Angel Tree and took one of the tags on it.

Angel Trees have become fairly common in our area. Appearing at about this time every year, they are festooned with small tags. Each bears the last name of a child, along with the little one’s age, clothing sizes and toys he or she would like to get from Santa Claus.

People who take the tags buy what clothing and toys they can, then return them to the Angel Tree sponsor, in this case, the Salvation Army. Then, on Christmas morning, some children whose parents can’t afford much learn Santa Claus paid them a visit.

St. Nicholas for this particular child wasn’t careful enough. She was noticed by someone who knows her.

She has two children of her own, and works hard to give them nice things. She appears to be doing better financially than she had. But as recently as last year, our mutual friend tells me, her children probably would have qualified to have their names on Angel Tree tags.

She’s still far from well-off. Beyond any doubt, the money she will spend to make Christmas bright for a child she doesn’t know could have gone for many, many other things. Perhaps something for herself.

Or maybe this is for her.

Perhaps she wants to give herself the best Christmas present she will receive this year.

At about this time every year for a long time, I’ve asked you, good and gentle reader, to help children who otherwise wouldn’t get much, if anything, for Christmas. Sad to say, there are lots of them.

But this isn’t one of those “give ’til it hurts” pleas. Far from it. This amounts to giving until you feel really, really good.

Each Christmas morning for many years, I’ve treated myself to a wonderful present. I get up, get a cup of coffee, then relax with the paper for a few minutes.

While I do, I visualize children who, cautioned by cash-strapped moms and dads not to expect much this year, tumble out of bed and hurry to the Christmas trees in their homes. Not expect much? From Santa? He always comes through.

And then I smile — a rare event, as many who know me will tell you.

Because I gave some money to folks who help the needy during the holidays, the jolly old elf has visited a home or two he otherwise would have had to skip.

There’s a bicycle for one little boy, an Elsa doll for his sister. There’s a new winter coat for another youngster. In my mind on Christmas morning, I see it all.

If you’ve tried it, you know how good it makes you feel. If you haven’t, you ought to start this Christmas. I guarantee it’ll become a tradition.

So perhaps the Angel Tree woman is being a bit selfish this year. She may have been unable to afford the perfect Christmas present for herself in the past, but now, she can indulge herself.

She’s giving herself something Santa Claus doesn’t bring — the smile of a child on Christmas morning.

Myer can be reached at: