Jeff hunkered down in his chair. He didn't know what he was going to buy his girlfriend for Christmas.
They'd been out shopping the day before looking for presents for some of their friends and she kept running up to the store windows one after another to admire different things.
He was totally confused. She liked this, she liked that. Oh, what to get her - and he was on a budget. He didn't know what to do.
Margie came into the room just then. She smiled at Jeff and said, "I have some nice tea ready for us. Would you like to..." "Oh yes," he said. They sat down and had tea and enjoyed their time together and talk and then he had to go off to work. She worked a different shift.
When he went home that night he wasn't sure what to get for her and it was already Christmas Eve. Oh they had a nice tree set up at her house and there was lots of presents around it but he still didn't know what to get.
He went out shopping to the mall where the stores were still open - thank heavens. He walked around from place to place, from window to window that showed various things that she had run up to and said how wonderful they were and it would be wonderful if they could get those things for this friend or that friend but he thought maybe she wanted them too.
Finally he sat down on a stone bench they had there for their customers. He didn't know how long he'd been sitting there and suddenly he noticed that there was an old man sitting on the other end of the bench. He didn't know why he hadn't noticed him before, he just didn't.
The old man looked at him and said, "Trying to find the perfect gift aren't you." Jeff said, "Yes!" And the old man said, "I know that one."
Jeff said, "Did you have something in mind?" "Oh yes," said the old man. And Jeff slid over a little bit closer to him because the old man's voice was kind of quiet and it was noisy in the mall.
"What kind of gift did you have in mind," Jeff said hoping to get some idea for a last minute present. "You know," the old man said, "I was married for sixty years and my wife just recently passed away and I come down to this mall because we used to like to come here in the summertime when it was hot and it's all nice and cool in here, you know, in the summertime."
Jeff nodded. The old man went on to say, "My wife told me once - and I never forgot it - that the best gift I'd ever given her through our entire time together was a card when I'd been inspired, I don't know where the inspiration came from..." he said, "...but I was inspired to write this poem.
"It wasn't perfect. It didn't rhyme in all the right places but it felt like a poem and in that poem I told her exactly how I felt about her. How I loved the way she brushed her hair back in the evening and the way she'd wink at me sometimes when we were both brushing our teeth in the morning and just the little things that made me enjoy her so much."
"And what else did you give her," Jeff said. "No, that was it," said the old man, "I gave her that card - and just felt like giving it to her one day. It wasn't Christmas or any holiday. I just felt it and wrote it down and gave her the card."
"And that was her favorite gift?" Jeff said. "Oh yes," said the old man, "she said that was the best thing I'd ever given her and she treasured it. And you know, when she told me that - I'd given her that card maybe twenty, twenty five years before - she pulled it out of a drawer and it was kind of dog-eared and worn. I could tell that she'd looked at it many times. There it was - just the way I'd written it. It made me smile. She was such a special person."
"Oh," said Jeff, "I'm sorry. She sounds wonderful." "Yes, she's passed away now for the past couple years," the old man said. "Oh my, I'm so sorry," Jeff said.
"Well," the old man said, "I come down to the mall and see the young faces and the married couples with their children - and it's a wonderful holiday for children isn't it."
"Yes, I suppose it is," Jeff said. "You know," the old man said, "if you've got somebody special you might think about just writing a card - just a simple card, it doesn't have to be anything fancy. The one I gave my wife wasn't the least bit fancy, and write in there even if you don't do a poem - just write in there exactly how you feel about her. Write about the good things and the small things that you enjoy that just make your heart sing. You know what I mean," said the old man.
"I think I do," Jeff said. "You have time. I know it's Christmas Eve but I'll bet you can think of quite a few things you love about her," said the old man.
"Oh yes," Jeff said, "I just love the way she wears this hat. She always cocks it at a funny angle and it just makes me smile and laugh and I just love her so much when I see that." "Well," said the old man, "that's a good start. Maybe you've got some of the poet in you yet."
Jeff scurried out of the mall. He made a quick stop at the all night drugstore on the way home and found just the right card for her. He just knew she'd love it. By the time he got home he knew everything he was going to say.
Well, I don't have to finish the story for you do I. The next day with all the presents that were opened up, Margie opened up that card and the tears just ran down her face - tears of joy. No one had ever said those kind of wonderful things to her before and Jeff knew by the look in her eyes when she looked at him that it was just possible that they'd be married for sixty years too.
Merry Christmas everyone.