An Unexpected Gift

With a rush, all five of us barged through Mom and Dad’s bedroom door and attacked the bed. The two youngest launched themselves at the lumpy forms that were my unsuspecting parents while the older three stood at the edge helping to plead the case.

It was Christmas morning and it was time to open presents.

Luckily, my parents were savvy veterans. They knew resistance was futile and, though the bedroom clock showed a red 5 where an 8, 9, 10 or 11 should be, they dragged themselves out of bed and headed downstairs to ready the video camera, turn on the Christmas tree and get the coffee maker running.

In short order, all was ready and the teeming, tumbling mass of pajama-clad bodies working themselves into a frenzy at the top of the stairs was set free. If possible, the noise escalated as we hip-hopped down the stairs, thundered across the vinyl floor and whooped with joy as we lay claim to our “pile” of presents laid out neatly next to the stockings we had strategically placed the night before.

Without missing a beat, all of us assayed the loot. We rattled boxes, re-organized the pile from biggest to smallest and started to strategize. Some decided to go with the “save-the-biggest-present-for-last” strategy. Some went with the “bigger-is-better” strategy. And, some went with “close your eyes and pick a random present.”

After much hullaballoo, the opening process began – youngest to oldest, one present at a time until only the family present was left. Then, with much fanfare, everybody in the family grabbed a section of the present and commenced the count-down – “3, 2, 1. Rip!”

In a nanosecond, the present was laid bare – a brand, new Nintendo gaming system and enough games to keep us busy at least until dinner.

But, before playtime could begin in earnest, we had to give our presents to Mom and Dad.

In the past, this had been fun, but I wouldn’t classify it as the highlight of my morning. After all, it’s hard to top a new pair of ice skates on the entertainment scale. But this year was different. This year, I was eagerly anticipating giving my/our present to Mom and Dad. Well, maybe not eager, I was nervous, anxious, uncomfortable and excited all rolled into one big ball.

I handed over the slim letter-sized package with plain paper wrapping and a small tag that simply said To: Mom & Dad, From: Rodney, Ryan, Angie, Robin & Ray.

As always, Dad deferred and handed the gift to Mom. She opened it, no doubt expecting another school-crafted gift, but instead discovered a stapled booklet with a cover and five pages. On each page was a typed letter with thoughts, hopes, dreams and love from each of their kids.

The younger kid’s letters were touching and cute and the older kids were more thoughtful. I’m sure spelling and grammar mistakes abounded. I’m sure the photocopied artwork was crude. But, it didn’t seem to matter. A small tear snuck out of my Mom’s eye and, at that moment, I learned it truly is better to give than to receive.

This simple belief is at the heart of our ongoing tradition of giving you a “gift” of some sort in our end-of-the-year, holiday issue. In the past, we’ve hired an illustrator to create a Christmas card for the front cover. We’ve designed the entire magazine to look like a Christmas present.

This year, we’re taking a different tack.

Instead of a thematic cover or special design, we’re providing a touching, short story written by Kirby Jonas, an acclaimed western novelist.

Our hope is that you get a moment to start a fire, brew a cup of hot chocolate (it’s o.k. to add just a dash of rum) and curl up with this wonderful story.

If you like it, I’d invite you to open your second present – our brand new Digital Edition. It has all kinds of bells and whistles (video, audio, animation, etc.), but, more important, it allows you to quickly and easily share Camp Business content with friends and family.

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