He grew up like so many other farm boys, in a modest Iowa farmhouse with modest surroundings, but always wanting just a little bit more.
When he was old enough to toss a bale he had a network of farmers who used him on a regular basis. Tucking his money away and saving every penny, he told his mom, “One day, I want to have more money than God.”
As much as his mother tried to share with him how impossible that was, he didn’t care; he had his sights set on making lots of money one day.
Learning didn’t always come easy for this young farm boy. He could back up a wagon blindfolded, but learning how to read required both eyes and all the concentration he could muster. Many evenings he sat frustrated with homework, but he kept working at it. When he brought home good grades his mom knew every “A” came with lots of hard work.
College for this young man was questionable. Wanting to farm, he had no use for higher learning. All he wanted to do was drive tractors and grow crops, but as he listened to his parents talk about the value of an education, he slowly came to the realization high school graduation would just be a steppingstone to college.
His mom worried about this boy who wanted to have more money than God. She figured she had failed somewhere along the way and that she had raised a kid who thought money ruled the world. She watched him bale hay, pitch manure, dig trenches, bale more hay, pitch more manure and come home sweaty and muddy, with holes in every pair of jeans he owned.
As he entered college, she kept a close eye on how much importance he put on getting good grades as he kept working long hours on days when he didn’t have class.
While his high school peers got together on weekends to hang out, he was working. While his friends were embarking on college life far away from home, he was dedicating his early mornings to coaching the local junior high boys’ basketball team. It seemed at every turn he was all about making just a little bit more.
It was Christmastime and he finished his Christmas shopping early. With all his presents wrapped, he sat down and told his mom, “I’m so excited about Christmas this year.”
His mom asked why, and he replied, “I bought the best presents, I can’t wait for Christmas morning to watch everyone open their gifts. I don’t even care if I get anything, I just want to watch everyone else.”
This, coming from the kid who wanted to have more money than God? This, coming from the miser who saved his money and would rather gather up loose change to buy gas than spend his dollars? This, coming from the kid who drives an old pickup truck when all his friends are driving sports cars and SUVs?
Was this really her son?
Feeling her throat thicken and her eyes begin to water, the mom looked at her son and said, “Now you know the real meaning of Christmas and how much better it is to give than it is to receive. I’m so proud of you.” And as she opened her gifts on Christmas morning from her farm boy, she was elated at what she received – but even more blessed by the expectant joy on this young man’s face. And that was the best Christmas present ever.
Readers with questions or comments for Melissa Hart may write to her in care of this publication.