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The Sweetest Gift

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Posted 12-22-2008 at 08:17 AM by Jeff Westover

Traveling home from a business trip on December 19th is never fun. I've done it before and I've sworn I'd never do it again. But duty called and there I found myself on a Friday night waiting at the airport as weather across the country scrambled my chances of getting home on the weekend before Christmas 2008.

The Southwest terminal in Los Angeles is a bit of a gritty place. Always busy, it was packed with holiday travellers bound for all points east -- and no one was going anywhere.

I was there for more than 5 hours. Finally our plane arrived but we had to wait an additional hour for a crew to arrive to man it. After midnight -- officially Saturday now - we finally boarded, packed in like sardines, pushed away from the gate only to sit on the tarmac for some reason for 45 minutes.

My flight was only about 1 hour and 20 minutes. I was more than 8 hours now into my nightmare.

The flight itself was uneventful. All were too tired to make much noise, I suppose. Like others, I slept.

We arrived in Salt Lake where the snow had been flying all day. We landed and sat on the tarmac there -- for about an hour. It seems there were dark planes parked at every gate and we had no place to go. They had to find someone who was qualified to move one so that we could pull in.

I got my bag and headed to the curb to await the parking shuttle. It was perhaps 15 degrees outside with light snow falling.

The shuttle to the employee lot passed a couple of times before a man flagged it down on its third pass. He said there was only one shuttle running to the long term parking and with all the flights running late it was packed with every run.

I jumped in a cab and asked him to take me to the long term parking. It was the cheapest cab ride of my life and one of the most fulfilling.

I finally got to my car and began digging.

By 4:30 in the morning I was finally home -- nearly a full 12 hours after arriving at LAX for my flight.

I awoke fairly early on Saturday, a full day planned, as many have on the weekend before Christmas.

Later that evening, as I hit my leather chair to enjoy my Christmas tree for a few moments, I felt all the energy drain from my body and I knew I would not last long.

It was at this glorious moment of peace and rest that two of my daughters, Allie, age 12, and Maggie, who just turned 11, asked if they could give me an early Christmas present.

They handed me a Tootsie Roll piggy bank filled with their hard-earned savings. They are popular babysitters in our neighborhood and I knew they had stashed quite a bit of cash aside for some Christmas shopping on a level they have never previously been able to do.

Inside was a note:

Dear Dad,

Here is some money for you to help you out a little bit. Don't try to give it back. We love you and will be saving up more for you. Hope this helps you out. Merry Christmas. We hope you have the best Christmas filled with joy, excitement, laughter, love and warmth. We love you. We are glad you are a funny, protective, loving, caring, hopeful and comforting father. You are the best! Thank you for providing for our family.

Stuffed with the note inside was $43.69, the collected savings of babysitting ventures for weeks.

It may have been the fatigue but through glossy eyes I thanked them as best as I could.

Nothing sweeter could have been said to me at that moment in particular and nothing better could have been given to me this season.

My kids, in their generosity, try to give me money all the time. Normally, I give it right back to them with some advice of how to use it for some good. But not this time. I knew this was one of those moments where that would be the wrong thing to do.

But I did give it some thought.

After a while I discussed with them our efforts this year online with Santa's Sleigh.

All of the funds we collected online have been distributed for this year. So I told the girls that their gift of money to me would be the seed money for Santa's Sleigh 2009.

It thrills me, of course, to report this. I make a record of it here as a grateful parent. My girls, indeed all my kids, have been raised right when it comes to giving and Christmas. They get it. I thank their mother for that.

Like many, we are having a lighter Christmas this year. That is by choice, thankfully.

But it will be a bigger Christmas than ever. The spirit of it is upon me in full force now, thanks to the sweetest gift from two of my girls.

Merry Christmas one and all!
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  1. Old Comment
    Rob's Avatar
    Wonderful !
    Posted 12-31-2008 at 05:50 PM by Rob Rob is offline
 
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