A sad, lonely orphan boy gets an unexpected gift from his grandfather, an old, worn-out sock.
I was just seven years old when my parents died in a car crash. I will never forget that day. I was waiting for them to pick me up from school, but my grandfather showed up instead.
He was pale and shaking, and he couldn't speak. He just put his arms around me and held me tight. He didn't have to tell me something terrible had happened, and that my life was about to be turned upside down.
Grandfather's old sock became a magic gift | Source: Shutterstock.com
I moved out of the big sunny apartment that had been my home and moved into my grandfather's tiny dark house on a street filled with other tiny dark houses inhabited by other old people.
It was an old neighborhood, I guess, and I was the only kid for blocks. I also had to leave the private school I had attended before because my grandfather couldn't afford it.
My parents had been doing well, but they were young and never imagined they would die. There were few savings and only a small insurance policy that gave me a small monthly stipend towards my upkeep.
The apartment was sold, and the small equity my grandfather put into a bank account towards my future education. He was retired, but he went back to work as a security guard at a local factory, working long hours to make ends meet.
His parents were killed in a car crash | Source: Unsplash
It wasn't easy, starting a new school, living with my sad grandfather instead of with my young and vibrant parents. But only now, more than 20 years later do I realize what a huge task my grandfather had taken on.
The truth is that there just wasn't enough money. Before they died my parents had been helping my grandfather out financially because my grandmother's illness had consumed their savings and left him burdened with debt.
Now they were gone, and he had to take care of me, feed me, clothe me, and educate me. And he did it. I'm not going to tell you I appreciated all he did at the time, because I didn't.
I resented him, and I resented our poverty, wearing thrift store clothes, not having all the fancy toys all my friends boasted about. Our second Christmas together was the worse.
His little life fell apart | Source: Unsplash
I had been dreaming about an action figure all the kids wanted and all I got as a Christmas present was a big old red sock. I tore the wrapping paper away and stared at the sock.
"What is this?" I asked. "A sock? Just one?"
"That, Johnny," my grandfather said, "is a magic sock."
At nine, I was less credulous than I'd been six when I'd believed in Santa and magic. "Right!" I scoffed. "An old ratty sock is magic?"
His grandfather took care of him | Source: Unsplash
"Yes," my grandfather said. "Every morning you will discover a piece of candy in that sock."
"Yeah...SURE!" I said and threw the sock on top of my bedside table. But the next morning there WAS a piece of candy in the sock, and the next, and the next...
I was sure it was my grandfather putting the candy in my sock, so I took it to school and put it in my locker. When my friends asked me what I'd gotten for Christmas, I showed them the sock, and they all laughed at me.
I was the joke of the day, but the next day when I opened my locker, there was a piece of candy in that sock! It really was magic! All my friends were impressed and they all wanted a sock like that.
The Christmas present from grandpa | Source: Unsplash
Of course, today I know that my grandfather must have convinced the school's nightwatchman to let him in to tuck that piece of candy in that old sock, but I guess that only made the magic of love even more amazing.
This year my grandfather had a stroke and for a while there, we thought we'd lose him. I saw that he was giving up, so I wrapped up that old sock and took it to the hospital with me. "Granpa," I said, "this here is a magic sock..."
He smiled. "Yes...I remember..."
Grandfather was home for Christmas | Source: Unsplash
I started thinking that if there really WAS magic in the world, maybe all kinds of impossible things were possible, right? And I guess they were because today I have a wonderful family of my own, and a lovely home, and a great job."I want you to keep it with you, and remember that believing makes all the difference. Anything is possible, and you're coming home again."
And that Christmas, he came home to us. I wrapped up the sock and gave it to my youngest son as a Christmas present. When he unwrapped it, he looked just as stunned as I had, but I explained the magic of the sock solemnly.
My grandfather listened to the story with a smile on his lips and whispered to me: "You realize how much work that magic is, don't you?"
I smiled and hugged him. Yes, I knew, and I knew that one of these days I too would be sneaking in to tuck candy into a sock in a school locker...
What can we learn from this story?
1. The greatest gift of all is hope.
2. True magic resides in the love we give each other.
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