It was Christmas Eve and six-year-old Libby was at the mall doing some last minute shopping with her mother. She had been saving her coins and had a total of six dollars to purchase gifts for her mother and father.
She knew exactly what she was going to purchase, monogrammed handkerchiefs at Murphy’s Department Store. The price was perfect, three dollars each.
At the mall, she asked her mother to stand a short distance from the counter where the handkerchiefs were displayed and turn her back so she couldn’t see what Libby was purchasing. Her mother agreed to do so and Libby approached the clerk behind the counter.
“May I help you, young lady?” the clerk asked.
“Yes, you can,” Libby whispered. “I want to buy two monogrammed handkerchiefs, one for a lady and one for a man. And I don’t want my mama to know what I’m buying. She’s standing right over there.”
The sales lady nodded and whispered, “I understand. The handkerchiefs make excellent gifts. What monogrammed letter do you want for the lady?”
Libby looked at the ladies’ handkerchiefs in the display case. She was pleased with how beautiful they were. “Her name is Marie, so I would like the letter M.”
The clerk smiled and said, “You’re in luck, young lady. We have just one M left.”
Libby breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you. And do you have a box for it?”
“Yes, we do,” the clerk said. “Now, what letter do you want for the man?”
“His name is Daniel,” Libby said. “So I would like a D.”
The clerk sorted through the handkerchiefs. She paused, then sorted through them again. “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. We don’t have any D’s left.”
Looking disappointed, Libby said, “Are you sure?”
“Let me look one more time,” the clerk said. Again she sorted through the handkerchiefs. “No, I’m afraid not. No Ds at all.”
“Would you please look again, ma’am?” Libby asked. “There must be a D in there somewhere.”
“I don’t know what to say, honey,” the clerk said. “There just aren’t any.”
Libby’s eyes welled up with tears. “But what am I going to do? The stores are about to close and I don’t have a gift for my daddy.”
The clerk wished she could talk with the mother and maybe together they could come up with a solution, but she didn’t want to ruin Libby’s surprise for her mother. She felt helpless.
After staring at the handkerchiefs for a few moments, Libby whispered. “My daddy’s last name is Marsh. Do you have a handkerchief with an M on it?”
The clerk smiled. “Oh, I do hope so.” She again went through the handkerchiefs, paused, went through them again. “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry,” she said. “There are no Ms either.”
Christmas music was interrupted by an announcement. “The store will be closing in ten minutes. Please take your purchases to the nearest check-out. Have a Merry Christmas and thank you for shopping at Murphy’s.”
Determined not to give up, Libby said, “Just what letters do you have, ma’am?”
The surprised clerk said, “Well, let me see. Here’s a C and here’s an L……”
Libby interrupted, “Wait, I’ll take the L. It’s perfect. It can stand for Love.” She smiled and handed the clerk her money.
The clerk placed the handkerchiefs in their boxes and handed them to Libby along with the six dollars. “Keep your money, honey. That’s my gift to you. Merry Christmas.”
The next morning Libby could hardly wait for her parents to open their gifts.
“Oh, look at this beautiful handkerchief,” Libby’s mother said. “And, look, it’s got an M on it for my name, Marie. How special.”
Libby watched her dad open his gift and, before she could explain about the L, he winked at his wife and said, “Well, look at this. I got a handkerchief, too, and it’s got an L on it for….. my middle name, Lewis. Thank you, Libby. What a thoughtful gift. I love it.”
Years later, when Libby’s parents had passed away and she was sorting through their belongings, she found her father’s handkerchief box . The handkerchief was still in it with a note attached.
The note said, “This has always been my favorite gift. There’s no gift greater than the one given with LOVE.”