09/12/2012 10:53 am ET Updated Nov 10, 2012

A Pot of Gold

Gifts are one of the most fun ways to share love aren't they? And they come in so many fabulous shapes and sizes! One thing's for sure - they always hold special sentiments, heartwarming memories and usually a lot more value than their monetary worth. When I was a child I had a list of gifts I wanted from Santa or anyone who would give them to me - Barbie's Malibu House, a new bicycle with a banana seat and a cool transistor radio in the shape of a donut. As I grew into my teens the items on my list got bigger and more expensive and Santa was definitely out of the picture. Now I'm older and smarter and some of the best gifts I've ever received include cards from my husband and gifts from my nephews and nieces when they were small. But that transistor radio I so desperately wanted faded from my memory.

A pot of gold sounds like a pretty generous gift, doesn't it? I know I wouldn't mind getting one and I suspect neither would you. But a pot of gold can be disguised as a box of new pajamas and books to some - like a group of children in a shelter as a staff member wrote...

"Indeed you have delivered many smiles to hopeless children. We passed out the books and pajamas to the children housed at our homeless shelter and you would have thought that we gave the children a pot of gold. They felt special just to be able to have something to call their own."

Who among us would think of pajamas as a fancy outfit? We don't think of them as party dress except maybe for Halloween or a sleep-over for our own children. We change for bed without giving it much thought, without taking a minute to realize this bedtime ritual is a very special gift. Sadly, we've discovered that for so many children pajamas are pretty fancy outfits...

The letter continued, "One boy in particular wanted to know where he was going... he thought he was dressed up and was surprised the he had an outfit to wear to bed. We could not get him away from the mirror."

Many of us believe that books are indeed a treasure, a pot of gold perhaps, for our minds. For most of us, our bedtime book lays on a table next to our beds and without much gratitude we open it once we're under the covers and read a few pages until our eyes begin to close. When I first read the words in the letter I could almost see this little boy holding tight to his gold ...

"We had to read to him several times before he fell asleep and we could pry the book from his hands. You will never know the difference you have made in so many lives. Having their very own book has caused those who can read to want to read more, and those who cannot yet read have developed a desire to learn to read (right now they are memorizing as books are read to them.)"

I no longer yearn for those pot of gold gifts I wanted when I was younger - a jaguar to drive and a fancy house to live in. I am grateful for my pajamas and books just as much as the little boy in the letter is. And I know giving is the real gift.