You never know where or when a gift will come to you. Last week I was working in the bookstore at the fish hatchery when a young couple with two children came in. They were from Illinois, traveling to see grandparents.
The family had been outside feeding the fish and then came into the visitor center. They made their way into the bookstore, and were looking around as all shoppers do.
The little boy, I learned, was six years old. His little sister looked to be about four years old, and both were well behaved and very polite. The boy saw a book he wanted very badly. It was a book on reptiles — and it cost $7.95. He asked his mother if he could have the book and she said no. But very politely he said that he REALLY wanted it. Still the answer was no.
Then the little girl, who was named Adalaide because she was born in Australia, spotted a necklace that struck her fancy. She asked for the necklace that cost $20. Mother said no. But the little girl asked again, whispering nicely so no one but Mother heard.
Finally, the mother reached into her purse and pulled out a Ziploc bag that held some money. Adalaide's eyes brighten. This was her birthday money and her mother asked if she wanted to spend her birthday money on the necklace. Adalaide thought for a moment and then motioned for her mother to lean down for another whisper.
After the whispering, I could see that the mother was touched by her daughter's words. She then asked Adalaide if she was sure that was what she wanted to do. The little girl said yes.
Then it was clear what Adalaide had whispered as she went to the bookshelf and got the reptile book for her brother. She wanted to buy something for her brother, more than for herself. Both the mother and I wiped a tear as the little girl brought the book to the checkout counter.
Mother and daughter looked in the Ziploc bag and found that Adalaide actually had enough money to buy the book and the necklace. So the deal was done. Her parents praised Adalaide for her unselfishness in wanting to buy for her brother. And, I just poured on the praise, and even Grayson, her brother, gave his sister as hug.
I know it was Christmastime, but I suspect Adalaide would have put her brother's wish first, no matter what the calendar said.
This family passes through Neosho on their way to visit grandparents. Last year they saw the signs and decided to stop to see the fish and the hatchery. This was their second time to stop. They are already making plans to return so Grayson can participate in the kids fishing derby next June.
Page 2 of 2 - I'm glad they stop this time, and I'm glad I was on duty.
Adalaide got a gift — the necklace. Grayson got a gift — the reptile book. And I got a gift — seeing a little girl demonstrate the real meaning of Christmas.
Merry Christmas Adalaide and Grayson and your very wise parents as well.
I'll be looking for you in June.
Kay Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.