I'm Not Scrooge...I'm Just Broke

It's said that you can never have too many friends, but Christmas was just a week away and I had five people left to shop for on my Christmas list and only three dollars to my name. How do you tell your mother, brother and three friends that you can only spend sixty cents on each of them?

"Let's set a price limit on our gifts this year," I suggested to my best friend, Joanie.

"That's a good idea," Joanie agreed. "How about nothing over five dollars?"

"How about nothing over sixty cents?" I felt like the biggest cheapskate in the world.

"I guess this is where I'm supposed to say it's not the gift, it's the thought that counts," Joanie smiled. "But don't blame me if all you get is a stick of gum!"

It is almost impossible to buy anything for under sixty cents, so it was really going to have to be very small gifts with very big thoughts. I'd never spent so much time or effort trying to come up with the right gift for the right person.

Finally, Christmas day arrived, and I was worried how people would feel about my "cheap" gifts.

I gave my mother a scented candle with a note that said, "You are the brightest light in my life." She almost cried when she read the note.

I gave my brother a wooden ruler. On the back of it I'd painted, "No brother in the world could measure up to you." He gave me a bag of sugar and had written on it, "You're sweet." He'd never said anything like that to me before.

For Joanie, I painted an old pair of shoes gold and stuck dried flowers in them with a note that said, "No one could ever fill your shoes." She gave me a feather and a Band-Aid. She said I always tickled her funny bone and made her laugh until her sides ached.

To my other two friends, I gave one a paper fan and wrote on it, "I'm your biggest fan." To the other, I gave a calculator that cost one dollar and I painted a message on the back, "You can always count on me." They gave me a rusty horseshoe for luck and a bundle of sticks tied with a red ribbon because "friends stick together."

I don't remember all the other gifts that I got from people last Christmas, but I remember every one of the "cheap" gifts.

My brother thinks I'm sweet. My mother knows she is the most important person in my life. Joanie thinks I'm funny and I make her laugh, which is important because her dad moved away last year and she misses him and is sad sometimes.

I was worried I wouldn't have enough money for Christmas gifts, but I gave gifts to five people and still had twenty cents left over. We all still talk about our "cheap" gifts and how much fun it was to come up with a gift that cost pennies but told someone how we really felt about them. On my bookshelf, I still have a bag of sugar, a feather, a horseshoe and a bundle of sticks...and they are priceless.

© Storm Stafford

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