Gift Box

© 2017 by Tom Sparough

Gift Box

Nancy had saved the gift boxes until the office holiday party. Each of the six boxes was impeccably wrapped in sparkling paper.

The staff gathered in the conference room. When everyone had a coffee, tea, or eggnog, she distributed the presents to each person. “These are from Buzz. Don’t open yours until I read the note from him.”

It was an emotional moment since Buzz, the office manager for the last 12 years, had passed away last summer. His was a quick death, diagnosed in June, dead in August. Yet he had enough time to put final plans in place, and this was one of them.

Nancy read the note out loud. “My dear friends, and I always did consider you friends before employees, I want to give you a little something of what you have given to me. When you open your box, please know that I appreciated everything you did for our team. My best wishes to each of you. Sincerely, Buzz.”

“You may now open your boxes,” Nancy added.

The boxes were all about the size of a fist. They could have held candy, or jewelry, or a small woodcarving, but they all had the same thing in them.

Steve was the first to get his open. He laughed out loud, smiled, and looked around the room as if to see his old boss laughing with him, as they had done on so many occasions.

Sherry opened the paper carefully, not tearing any part of it. She opened the small lid of the box and looked inside. Tears filled her eyes and her mind was flooded with a thousand affirmations her boss had given her.

Jose ripped the paper apart and yanked the lid off. He held the box up to eye level peering inside. He closed his eyes and mouthed the words “thank you” into the air. His mind raced with the implications of what it meant. Once again he was brainstorming with his old boss.

Tony carefully opened his gift, looked inside, and put the box back on the boardroom table. He crossed his arms across his chest and muttered loud enough for everyone to hear, “You cheapskate.”

Of course, Buzz was in the room, at least in spirit. He was full to the brim with joy as he watched the gifts being opened, even if he was shaking his head at Tony’s comment.

Jasmine opened her gift, folded up the wrapping paper, looked inside, thought for a moment and took out a handful of throat lozenges from her jacket pocket and put them in the box. She remembered how Buzz had once said to her, “Everything and everyone has a place.”

After everyone else had finished, Nancy tore off the paper and opened her box. She saw that it was empty, just like all the rest had been.

It brought a smile to her face. She remembered all the times her boss had said, “Every situation is what you make of it.” He had wrapped each of these gifts with care. His personal touch was evident. She felt his reassuring presence in the empty box, and everywhere.

Never one to linger, Buzz departed knowing that each person had chosen what to receive from the gift. As he used to say, “What you give is what you get.”


It is often said that what you look for is what you find. When some people see nothing, others see countless possibilities.

What did each person get from his or her gift in this story?

What are you looking to give to others?