THIS IS THE season of dreams and miracles. Each of us has the opportunity to keep the spirit of Christmas alive if we make the effort.

The year-end holidays are a great opportunity to look back on your life and think about the good old days. Take a few minutes and think back to when you were a child and see if they weren’t just a little bit better than they are now.

Take the story about Bobby. I first shared this story 20 years ago. The author is unknown. Our local communities are so generous and giving I think our readers will understand the message the story tells.

Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his backyard in the snow. He wasn’t wearing boots. His thin sneakers had a few holes in them. That was the least of his worries.

Try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother’s Christmas gift. “This is useless,” he thought. “Even if I do come up with an idea, I don’t have any money.”

Bobby’s father had died three years before. The family of five had struggled. His mother worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she earned could only be stretched so far.

What the family lacked in money and material things they made up for in love and family unity. Bobby’s two older sisters ran the house in their mother’s absence.

All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Bobby didn’t think it was fair. It was Christmas Eve and he had no gift for his mother.

Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby started walking down a street where there were shops and stores. Bobby, who was 7 years old, walked from shop to shop, looking into each window. Everything seemed so expensive.

As it started to get dark, Bobby turned to walk home. Suddenly, his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun’s rays reflecting off something along the curb. It was a shiny dime. As he picked it up, he never felt so wealthy.

As he held his newfound treasure, warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he came to. His excitement quickly turned cold when the salesperson told him that he couldn’t buy anything with only a dime.

He next went into a flower shop. The shop owner asked if he could help him. Bobby presented the dime and asked to buy one flower for his mother’s Christmas gift.

Seeing the look in Bobby’s eyes, the shop owner said to him “You just wait here and I’ll see what I can do for you.”

While he waited, Bobby looked at all the beautiful flowers on display, and he could see why moms and girls like flowers. As the last customer left the store, Bobby felt alone and afraid.

Suddenly, the shop owner came out and showed Bobby 12 long-stemmed red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow.

Bobby’s heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box.

“That will be 10 cents, young man,” the shop owner said, reaching out his hand for the dime. “Was this possible?” wondered Bobby.

Sensing the reluctance, the shop owner added “I just happened to have some roses on sale for 10 cents a dozen. Would you like them?”

Bobby gave him the dime and took the box. The shop owner held the door open for him as he left and Bobby remembered him saying “Merry Christmas, son.”

As he returned inside, the shop owner’s wife walked out. “Who were you talking to in here and where are the roses you were fixing?”

Staring out the window and blinking tears, he replied “A strange thing happened to me this morning. While opening up the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift.

“I wasn’t sure at the time whether I had lost my mind, but I set them aside anyway. Then, minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop wanting to buy one flower for his mother with one small dime.

“When I looked at him, I saw myself, years ago. I, too, was a poor boy with no money to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me he wanted to give me $10.

“When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was and I put together a dozen of my best roses.”

The shop owner and his wife hugged each other, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn’t feel cold at all. They had just experienced the miracle of Christmas.

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AS MUCH as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. There is no greater gift one can bestow on children than that of self-esteem.

Building your confidence is a day-by-day process. Give this priceless gift all year long, not only to family members, but also to others. Everyone appreciates it.