Now that the holiday shopping season is underway, I am retelling this story because it is one of my favorites.
It may have been my sixth grade year. The University of Kentucky Wildcat basketball team was having another great season under Coach Adolph Rupp.
I was coming up on my 12th birthday and Christmas would be two days after that.
I had seen a couple of older guys in our town wearing bright, shiny blue jackets with “Kentucky” on the back. They were cool.
I later learned that the shiny material was called cotton sateen and it was pretty fancy stuff in those days.
I wanted one of those jackets so badly that I put it on my list for my birthday and for Christmas.
My mother loved Christmas but she had a rule that none of us were allowed to go searching for presents and spoil a surprise.
One of our big gifts would mysteriously show up late on Christmas Eve but we didn’t ask questions.
I knew mom’s rule about searching but I was obsessed with that shiny blue jacket. It didn’t show up on my birthday so it just had to be there for Christmas.
Mom was delivering food and gifts to a family in need and had left my brother in charge.
His head was buried in a book so I went searching.
Lo and behold, I dug into mom’s closet and found a shopping bag from a local store. As I pulled it down from the top shelf, the bag tore open and I could see white letters on shiny blue cloth.
I was excited as I reached into the bag. That’s when I noticed my brother and sister standing in the doorway, shaking their heads.
I threw the bag back on the shelf and tried to play innocent the rest of the day.
We got presents that night and again the next morning but no blue jacket appeared. I was heartbroken.
We went back to school a few days later. At recess I spotted a flash of bright blue across the playground.
A smaller, skinny kid from the poorest family in town came running over to me.
He was wearing a blue cotton sateen UK jacket that was about three sizes too big but his smile was ear to ear.
“Thanks, Keith, I really like my jacket. It’s the best Christmas present ever.”
And thank you, mom, for teaching me that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Keith Kappes is a columnist for The Morehead (Ky.) News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.