Glenda's Gift of Love
As the holidays approached, Glenda became more and more
worried. It had been a difficult year for her family, and she
hadn’t been able to save enough money for gifts. It
seemed that every penny went to pay the rent and put food on the table.
She sank down in the faded blue easy chair beside her bed and looked
out at the barren landscape beyond her window. The trees
outside the apartment seemed as gray and lifeless as the buildings
themselves. Only a few dead leaves dangled precariously,
holding onto the last thread of life amidst the December
chill. Glenda’s mood was as cheerless as the landscape,
and her bones were weary from cold weather and hard work.
Her six-year-old, Michael, came bouncing into the room with the
ceaseless energy of youth. He picked a spot on his
mother’s lap and fell into her arms.
“What’s the matter, Mama?” he asked
looking at her with innocent brown eyes. “Don’t you
“Oh, I’m okay,” Glenda assured him with a
hug. “I’m always better when you’re
In truth, he was both her greatest joy and her deepest sorrow
now. She couldn’t look into those eyes without
wishing she could give him the world, and she had so little to
offer. There wouldn’t even be a tree this year, but
somehow she would manage to make their holiday special.
She’d find a way. She had to.
After dinner that night, Glenda left Michael and his sister Kimberly
with their neighbor’s teenage daughter and took the bus to
the mall. She was determined to find some small gift for her
This close to the holidays, the crowded mall was awash with human
beings, but somehow Glenda felt a lack of humanity in it all.
The glitter and the noise could not touch her heart the way Michael and
Kimberly did. They were the precious jewels in her
life. Glenda chose two small gifts for each of her children,
but these were nothing, she thought. She should be able to
offer them so much more.
Time passed quickly amid the bustling crowd, and soon she had to catch
the last bus home. She was just leaving the mall when a
bright sparkle of gold all alone in a store window caught her
eye. She walked to the small display window and gazed into
the case, where a single shining star twirled on the end of a golden
string. The star had many points and captured the light from
every direction. How beautiful it would look on a tree,
Glenda thought. But even if she could afford the star, she
had no tree to put it on. Still, she could hardly tear
herself away from the golden star that seemed to glow with reflected
light. As she walked out the doors of the mall, she took one
look back at the display window, and the touch of golden light beckoned
her once more.
She turned her back and went outside, a swish of cold air hitting her
face. She strode swiftly to the bus stop trying to fend off
the chill. Instinctively, she looked up into the night
sky. Stars twinkled faintly in the wash of light from the
street lamps. Wind blew in her eyes and made them tear so
that the twinkling stars appeared blurred and more pointed.
She could almost imagine the sparkling star in the window if she
“Such jewels,” she said, and then thought of her
children. “My very own jewels,” Glenda whispered to
herself. “The stars in my life.”
As she spoke these words, Glenda realized what she had to do.
That night, after her children went to sleep, she created her own
special presents for them. All she needed was the gold foil
wrapping paper her friend Pam had given her, an old cardboard box,
paper, pen, a pair of scissors and some glue.
When her children awakened on Christmas morning, Glenda smiled a secret
smile, but she also worried that they might not understand the gifts
she offered them. At eight and six, they might think this
gift was silly or worthless. But it was too late now.
Michael opened his first box and found a gold star inside with a
message written on it. “What a pretty star,
Mama. It says, ‘You are my. .
.”’ He sounded out the words slowly and then stumbled on the last one.
“. . Jewel,” his sister offered, helping him read
the unknown word. Kim opened a gift next, and it
read: “You are my shining
They opened one small box after another to
find golden stars inside. On each, their mother had written
her words of love and praise. “You make me so
proud,” one star said. “You make me
smile,” said another, and for each child was a star that
read: “I will always love you.”
To Glenda’s amazement, her children opened each box
eagerly—anxious to see what special words their mother had
given them. They collected the stars with delight—each
making certain that he or she had as many stars as the other
one. The small gifts purchased from the mall got lost in the
joy over stars of love from their mother.
And Glenda finally
realized what she should have known all along: A gift of love
and praise is more valuable than the most expensive present she could
1993 Lillian D. Henderson
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