The Gift Of Giving

By Margie Harrell

A Letter to My Grandchildren


grandnother-xmasDearest Children, 

I have befriended a Mexican family that lives on the shores of Lake Chapala. We visit each day as I take my walks. They are a family of seven, five children and Momma and Poppa. Their home is a tarpaper shack just inches from the water’s edge. When it rains, the papers are rolled up so that the rain can run through the shack over the dirt floors. There are no windows and the only light comes through a lopsided wooden door. Each day as I walk by, the children run to greet me. We laugh together and skip along the shore. Words are not necessary as they speak no English and my Spanish is malo. I carry a few candies in my pockets and the children play a game trying to find them.

To go to school in Mexico you need two things, a pair of shoes and one clean outfit. Only one of the five children is able to go to school at the present time. There is barely money for food most days for this family. Twenty U.S. dollars to my grandchild up in the States equals about two or three movies and popcorn or a few CDs and a Coke, am I right? Twenty U.S. dollars to a Mexican child is the WORLD! A pair of shoes, a pretty dress and tortillas on the table for three days. So I go shopping for my Mexican friends. Tiny canvas shoes WITH socks, clips for the girl’s hair, belts to keep the boys pants up, tortillas for a week and just enough left over for Hershey Kisses. Guess what they liked the most? As I am about to take my leave of this happy scene the children begin to say, “Nada para usted?” which I knew meant “Nothing for you?”

I smiled and said gracias but they pulled me towards the lakeshore. Immediately they scattered and started to search the shallow waters. It wasn’t long before they had what they were looking for, bright shiny white shells especially for me. I was thrilled and they were happy they had repaid me for the kindness. The shells were beautiful but the smiles on their faces were payment enough for me.

The Spanish word for grandchildren is nietos and that is who I told the children had given them the gifts this holiday season. Of course they wanted to meet you both but I told them you lived far, far away. Mexico is a Third World country and what that means is it is a poor underprivileged country, but what they don’t tell you about Mexico is, they are happy, proud, friendly people who are content with the life God has given them. We from such a prosperous country as America could learn from our neighbors south of the border. We will have many more Christmases, more birthday parties and more of everything I am sure—but this year, know in your hearts, my children, that your gift went to a worthy cause. I feel good inside for doing this, as I know you do too. As we say here in Mexico, “Que le vaya bien,” which, loosely translated means, “May everything go well for you.”


Your Grandmother





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