A Precious Gift
By Lina Rehal

I was poking around my favorite antique shop in North Conway, New Hampshire, when I noticed a boy about eight or nine years old who appeared to be alone in the store. He was wearing a Red Sox baseball cap, with the visor bent up in the air. A few wispy locks of his hair stuck out from underneath the hat. The long white laces on his new Nike sneakers were untied, but that didn’t seem to bother him as he stared intently into a mahogany and glass curio cabinet. Not knowing what else a child that age could possibly be doing in a store full of collectibles and what-not, my husband commented on his “great hat” and asked if he was looking for baseball cards.

“Oh, no,” he replied, seriously. “My mother collects antiques and I want to buy her a special gift.”

Wishing him good luck, my husband moved along to the next aisle. I, on the other hand, thinking this was sweet, decided it was up to me to stay and help him out. He reminded me of my own son at that age. 

I started my quest by asking if his mom collected anything in particular, such as bone china teacups, salt and pepper shakers, old books, or porcelain dolls. He was not all that receptive to my suggestion of a figurine made in occupied Japan. Maybe she’d like a piece of antique jewelry or a vintage purse, I thought. Since I love colored glass, I pointed out a Shirley Temple creamer made of blue Depression glass. I was particularly fond of it myself and kind of glad he didn’t seem interested in it.

His diplomatic comment was, “That’s cool.”

When I realized the price was $38 and that he probably didn’t have that much money to spend, I mentioned that it was a bit on the expensive side. The little charmer informed me he had plenty of money because his dad filled his wallet for doing extra chores around the yard. (I thought, maybe he had $5.) I found it reassuring that parents still believed in making their children earn an allowance instead of just handing them cash. My new little friend innocently pulled out a shiny, black leather wallet and proudly showed me the two crisp fifty-dollar bills that were inside. (Which was more money than I had to spend on myself.) I told him that was a lot of money and he should be more careful about waving it around in public. I motioned for him to put the wallet away. While putting his hard earned cash back in his pocket, he told me that he wanted to buy something nice for his mom because of all the nice things she does for him. At that moment, I knew he needed to be on his own. Again I praised him for his thoughtfulness and left him at the case to ponder his decision. With tears in my eyes I went to tell my husband what this unselfish child was up to.

I walked around the store in search of some relic that might strike my fancy. Perhaps the Shirley Temple creamer or the ruby glass bowl, I thought? I kept thinking of the little boy and wondering what he would buy his mother. Being a mother, I couldn’t get over the heartwarming experience I just had. Moments later, I felt a tug on my sleeve. Not knowing how to go about purchasing his selection, he must have decided I was his best bet. My husband, who shared a common interest with this young baseball fan, pointed to the lady at the counter who would have the keys to the cabinet and be more than happy to help him. Together, we showed him the way and stood waiting to see what he bought. The saleswoman looked at us and smiled as she led this unique shopper to the cash register. He stopped to show us the gifts he so lovingly chose. In his tiny hands he held a small, worn leather purse and a nail clipper in a leather case. He smiled when I assured him his Mom would be thrilled, not only to receive such lovely presents, but also to know he picked them out just for her.

Most kids would not have that much money to spend, I’m sure, but I do believe there are many, many, more children like him who have respect for their parents and love in their hearts. Just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. So much emphasis is put on the “bad” things kids do, that it draws our attention in the wrong direction. Sometimes, we don’t notice the good. We need to notice the “good” in our children more often and LET THEM KNOW that we notice it.

I didn’t buy anything that day. I didn’t need to. My brief encounter with that impressive boy reminded me of special gifts from my own children when they were young. I thought of the handmade cards on Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, the brightly wrapped presents at Christmas time and my birthday and the smiles on their faces when I opened their gifts. A child’s love is a precious gift that is given unconditionally. It is worth far more than any antique.

The end.

Lina says: “I'm married and the mother of two grown children.  I work as an Executive Secretary and freelance writer.  My feature and travel stories have been published in the Living Section of the Lynn Daily Item. I've also been published in the North Shore Sunday and have articles on several websites and ezines.  Writing is my passion.  I write fiction, non-fiction, children's stories and some poetry.  I love the Internet and photography.” Contact the author:  Lina Rehal.