During the Christmas holidays of my junior year in high school, I was working in a downtown department store. On my way to work one day, I passed the town's upscale dress shop. Its window display stopped me in my tracks. The only piece of merchandise in the window was a beautiful green coat with a Peter Pan collar and a softly flared hem. That coat looked as if it had my name on it.
My family had heavy medical expenses that fall from my father's serious illness. No matter what the green coat cost, it would be too much for my family that year. Still, I had a one-way running conversation with that coat every morning.
"You are the most beautiful coat I've ever seen," I declared. The coat seemed to answer with, "Why don't you try me on?" My unspoken reply was, "No, I can't do that, and you're probably the wrong size anyway."
Each night, my brother would laughingly ask what the coat had said to me that day. My mother, however, concerned I might really be expecting to receive the coat, took me aside and said, "Your Dad and I want you to have that coat, but we can't afford it this year."
"I know that, Mom, but I've had fun talking about it."
On Christmas morning, there was not much excitement as our family members opened their agreed upon small packages. Finally, my mother said to my brother, "Bo, I see another package at the back of the tree. Let's see which one of us gets it."
It was a large box wrapped in white paper and tied with a gold bow. All my family had dancing eyes, but my eyes were filled with tears and my hands were shaking as I opened the box to find my beautiful green coat.
That Christmas was the hottest on record, but I wore my green coat everywhere I went - and for years to come. Christmas reminds us that the gifts we receive often come through the sacrifices of others.
Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.