I wracked my brain to come up with a special present for my family. Seems like through the years I have used up everything there is to give. 

Something unique for my children, my grandchildren and especially for my seven great-grandchildren?

The logistics of buying a gift for each and getting it in the mail seemed overwhelming!

Then I read about a woman who solved our problem in a wonderful, creative and unusual way. She bought blue envelopes and distributed them to each loved one, children and all. She included a self-addressed, stamped postcard and this note:

“Find someone who least expects it to give this to. Divide it with several if you want. Then write and tell me about your experience. Let’s spread Christmas joy!”

I handed out the blue envelopes a couple of weeks before Christmas. The postcards began arriving a few days before Christmas. 

Two things stood out. The first was the joy my family experienced when giving in person. The second was the excitement I felt as they wrote me letters describing the process, even sending a photo of the recipient of the gift.  

The gift was a blessing not only to the receiver but also on the giver. 

One woman overheard a grocery store checker telling the sacker she would be in the hospital on Christmas Day. Another left several big tips for waitresses. A couple was inspired to buy 20 pairs of socks for a homeless shelter after reading about how many entered without socks. A man taking the donation said, “This is better than turkeys!”

I especially wanted the giver as well as the recipient to experience the joy of giving and not receiving in a one-on-one personal way. The children had trouble parting with their money, but one gave to her teacher and another to their paperboy.

One example of the note I received:

“This was an incredible exercise you gave us the opportunity to perform. I divided the gift between the parking attendant where I work and man who cleans and mows my yard. Both were so surprised and insisted I thank you for your generosity.” I realized it is true: It is more blessed to give than to receive.

JoAn Martin is a retired teacher with five published novels. Reach her at or at

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