Shiny red apples

Christmas 1984 was our family’s third Christmas away from Europe, and the remote village in eastern India where we had moved to help as volunteers had become a second home. After some initial difficulty in adjusting to such a different climate and culture, we soon came to appreciate the wonderful people we lived around and to embrace the new sights, sounds, tastes, and fragrances. I began to especially look forward to shopping at our local market, which seemed to have a year-round selection of fabulous juicy fruits—mangos, bananas, lichees, papayas, jackfruits, limes, and others.

It was on one of those trips to the market that we happened to see a stand that was selling—at an exorbitant price—some beautiful apples. We were told that these had arrived from the far north of the country, which explained the price tag.

Memories from my childhood surged, and of course, Christmas is a time when memories seem to carry special potency. My eldest daughter was accompanying me that day and put my feelings into words: “It would be so nice to have an apple for Christmas.”

That’s how the idea for our family’s Christmas surprise came about. My husband and I spent an evening wrapping small cardboard boxes filled with cookies, nuts … and one big, red apple!

On Christmas morning, the kids opened their boxes and jumped up and down at the sight of those apples! I think we parents had just as much fun watching them and—since we also got a Christmas box—savoring our own precious apple.

We returned to Europe a number of years ago and have since had plenty of apples, but our entire family still cherishes the fond memory of that one “poor” Christmas when we experienced that “rich” feeling of thankfulness for a simple apple.

May we always find a simple, humble reason to be grateful—not just at Christmas, but in every celebration and event all year round.