The Fourth Gift

The True Story of a Modern-day Wise Man

During one Christmas season, I met a modern-day wise man. The old man walked into my classroom to thank me for what we would later call “the fourth gift.” On his behalf, I share his message with you now …

The school halls were empty and the janitor was making his final rounds. I was just stacking the last supplies for holiday storage when the classroom door opened. A thin, elderly gentleman stood in the doorway, his white hair and ragged clothes dimmed by the late afternoon shadows. For a moment I thought he belonged down the hall, in the now empty manger scene. When he inched closer I could see his eyes glistening, tears staining his weathered cheeks.

As he extended his hand, he whispered, “Thank you … for teaching my little girl … how to read.” Then he turned and walked away.

I stood and watched his bent frame shuffle down the dimly lit corridor, his foster daughter clinging to his outstretched hand. To this man who could not even pen his own name, the child held a treasure as precious as gold. She could read.

To teachers everywhere … Thank You.

( A Christmas Classic )


Encouraging Compassion

Parental example is the primary standard by which young children measure acceptable behavior.

Question: “What are you doing?”
Answer: “Keeping the ant warm.”

His father works in security, protecting folks from harm. His mother nurtures the young. These consistent examples of compassion are already imprinted in his “code of conduct blueprint.”

Through our example, as adults, our children already have the foundations of integrity and excellence within them. Therefore this holiday season,

  • when our children get caught up in the excitement of the holiday season,
  • when they get over tired,
  • and when visiting children model inappropriate behavior,

let’s not panic. Any temporary errors in judgement they may commit are all part of learning how to develop self-control, how to endure physical stress, and how to resist peer pressure.

Let’s remember to be gentle, soft-spoken, and kind when dealing with these occasional indiscretions. Because we already know that … what they see is what we get.

For more information go to our article entitled Transferring Values to Young Children.

( A Christmas Classic )