Snow flurries were flying, the temperature was rapidly dropping and Christmas Eve had finally come to the little Kentucky township of Lyndon. Harry had just turned sixteen this past summer and was thinking about girls, and cars, and not much else. Those who knew him, knew it was always, "What's in it for me," with Harry, but now, as Christmas approached, he had become even more self-centered.
Yes, as usual, Harry was thinking more about what he might get for Christmas, than what he might give. Harry was not a giver. No one could ever describe him as soft hearted, and when it came to family, he seemed to always have great expectations. To his thinking, his mom and dad had brought him into this world and, they owed him: forever. It was their job to make sure he had everything he ever needed or wanted, and as far as his sister and brothers were concerned, they could fend for themselves.
In his sixteen years, Harry had never thought of buying a Christmas gift for his mother and father, much less his siblings, but as usual, he was dropping hints about what he expected for Christmas to anyone who would listen. What does every sixteen-year-old want? Why, a car of course. Four wheels, something he could work on, something that would be his and his alone. He could do whatever he wanted with it. Maybe hed put a new engine in it, or deck it out with the best audio system going (he could get the old man to fork over a few bucks for whatever it needed). He loved loud music and he wanted to hear it the right way, so, it was no surprise to anyone when Harry hinted that he wanted a car. It didn't have to be new, no, it could be an older model (he had told his mother it could be a year or two old; his friends thought that was laughable). His expectations were soaring; it was Christmas.
Harry had never worked a day in his life, and when he needed money, he bragged, "I just hit the old man up for a few bucks." His mother was the softest touch. He could slip into his child-like voice, and that worked more often than not; she couldn't resHarry's. He's a good boy, she would say. Yes, he has a few short comings, but he'll grow out of them.
It happened, Christmas Eve. Harry was home, while his mother, father, two younger brothers and little sister, went shopping for last minute gifts. Harry thought it was ridiculous for the family to load-up and go out into the madness that was Christmas Eve. He could hear them as they pulled out of the drive; they were all singing, I'm dreaming of a White Christmas, and his father was off-key as usual. "That's childish stuff," he thought, as he rummaged through drawers looking for receipts from gifts his mother and father had purchased for him. Surely he would find a receipt from a local car dealership, or something to show they had purchased that car for him. "If they haven't bought me a car, I'm gonna be Hell on wheels to live with," he thought.
He was upstairs when the doorbell rang and when he looked outside, he saw flashing blue lights emanating from a police cruiser, in the driveway.
A chill ran up Harry's spine; he didn't know what to do. Should he answer the door? If his mom or dad had been there, they would have answered, but they weren't, so he decided to pretend no one was home. He hadn't done anything wrong in fact, he rarely drove the family car, and he knew he hadn't gotten any tickets. What could I have done the police would know about? he wondered. Man, I aint gonna talk to nobody. I ain't done nothin' that would bring them out here. As usual, Harry thought it was all about him. If it was good, he had caused it; if it was bad, hey, someone else was to blame. Now, as he sat huddling by his bed, upstairs, he heard a loud voice say, "We know you're in there son. Your mom told us you were home. Come to the door; we have some news for you." Ah, at last, he recognized the voice; it was Police Chief Gaines.
Oh, it's my new car, thought Harry. They went out to buy me a car and the chief helped them get it home. That was it, he thought, as he bounded down the steps and opened the door. The Chief had a serious look on his face and said, "Harry, get your coat and we'll take you to the hospital. Everyone is okay, but your family was in a pretty serious accident tonight son, and your mother asked us to come get you."
Harry learned a valuable lesson that evening. Family is more important than any Christmas gift, no matter the value. You see, family is the true gift. The simple but important lesson about life is learning to be selfless, not selfish.
Harry cried a lot that night, while also saying a prayer of thanks that his family would recover from their injuries. He didnt realize how much he loved them; too bad it took something terrible for him to learn selflessness. When you are looking for true love and kindness, look to your family, first. Family is the great gift of life. Oh, and yes, Harry's mom & dad did buy him a car it was 15 years old, but he didn't complain.
His parents could not believe the change in him. Why, he even volunteered to babysit, his siblings. What's more, he became the big brother they had always wanted. Kind, considerate, and caring. He even got a job after school, and what's more, he spent some of his own money on the family, buying everyone Christmas gifts, as well as other things, throughout the year. It was not unusual to see him with his brothers and sister, at the Dairy Dream, everone enjoying an ice cream cone,on Harry.
Oh, and Harry also asked the principal if he could speak to his fellow students during one of the morning assemblies; he cried when he spoke, as he told his classmates his story. He also apologized to them for being so self-centered in the past, and vowed to change.
It was the first of many times he would hear his classmates cheer him, but it was clearly the best, ever. Merry Christmas, Harry. It took a hard lesson, but you have responded, well, young man. You have passed the test of becoming a true, mature, gentleman. Congratulations!