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 )

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