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‘It’s All We Have’

Student essay on the meaning of Christmas

Orrick Elementary Assistant Principal Heather Wrisinger-Pugh submitted this student essay from Orrick sixth-grader Dakota Becker. She said she was taken aback by the heartfelt and beautiful story. So were we. Thank you, Dakota. Keep on writing.

By Dakota Becker

“The warm, chewy, sugar cookie just melted in my mouth, sprinkles and all. Christmas had filled our veins. We had waited until the last minute, which was really the last day, to put up our Christmas tree and our decorations. We had put up the stockings, started making our Christmas Day meal, and we had put all the wrapped presents under the tree. My sister and my name written over mounds of gifts…”

This is what I heard, as one of my classmates finished reading their Christmas story as we all sat on the carpet, anxiously waiting to run out of the building like wild animals.

“I wish I could have a day like that,” I thought to myself, but I couldn’t dread. I had my family with me. We didn’t have much, really nothing when it came to Christmas. No tree. No cookies. No stockings. No gifts.

“RING,” the bell to dismiss had gone off and everyone just charged out of the room. Me, I slowly got up and walked out the door before a voice stopped me.

“Jeremy,” I heard Mr. Jameson say, “I almost forgot,” he said to me. He had handed me a wrapped gift with my name on it. “Thanks,” I told him.

“Don’t open it until Christmas Day with your entire family around,” he said. The gift had been light. I had no clue what it was.

“I won’t. And thanks again, Mr. Jameson.” He gave me the happiest smile.

One very quick week went by with the gift just sitting on the table, until finally it was Christmas Eve.

“Tomorrow’s Christmas Mass will have a meal for anyone that needs something to eat.”

“It’s so embarrassing, Dad,” my sister said, as she almost started to cry. “We are the only ones that go to these eat free things while everyone else is at home opening presents and eating cookies and cake…”

She had stopped there and I’m glad she did. My dad, standing there in shock, he didn’t respond.

We had put up some of Dad’s big socks as stockings and laid out some Walmart cookies with some almost-expired milk. It wasn’t the best, but it’s all we have.

“Alright, bedtime,” Mother said. She put me and my sister in the same, cramped bed as normal. There wasn’t much to say, just a few I love yous and a couple good nights and the room was dark.

My sister whispered to me, “What do you think is in the box?”

“I don’t know. We will have to see in the morning,” I replied, as butterflies swirled in my stomach, though trying to play it off as if I wasn’t extremely excited to open the gift.

My sister had woke me up excited and jumping off the wall. A few presents lay on the floor, and the socks had something in them. I couldn’t quite make it out, but there was something. The box I got from Mr. Jameson was laying the floor, bound to be opened.

“Mom! Dad!” my sister screamed with excitement. Everyone was up and ready to have Christmas together.

“Go ahead guys, open up your presents,” my mom said with sheer happiness on her face.

I unwrapped the gift slowly while my sister tore through, inside were some winter clothes that we were in definite need of.

“Thanks, guys!” my sister and I said in unison. But it was time – time to open up the package that Mr. Jameson had given me.

I slowly unwrapped the small package, carefully and thoughtfully.

“What is it? What is it?” my sister asked as she was bouncing off the wall with glee.

It was a note and it read, “Dear, Jeremy’s family, I know the holidays can be a struggle for some, so I thought that I could help you out a little this holiday. Merry Christmas and God bless, Mr. Jameson.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Five, crisp, one-hundred dollar bills, lay in the small box. My face in complete shock.

“Well, what is it?” my dad asks, also becoming impatient.

I could barely get the words out of my mouth. “Five…Hundred…Dollars…,” the last word almost soundless.

“What! Let me see!” my sister said, holding out her hand.

I handed her the money. “Whoa” was her response.

The money ended up getting passed to my mother and father and they looked at each other with amazement.

The Christmas holiday continued just fine. We went to church, went out to eat, bought some clothes and had money left to give to some people on the street who were also not as lucky.

Just a heartfelt reminder: the Christmas holiday isn’t about what you receive, it’s about what you give. Anyone is capable of making a huge difference.

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