• Luke and Ryan Hart

How to Give This Christmas

With Christmas next week, we wanted to share with you our happiest memory of the holiday season.

We never had any money growing up; our father made sure of that by wasting what little money we had. He knew poverty would make it difficult for us to leave.

As children, we always wanted to give each other something on Christmas day. We often had to make something, or purchase a gift with what few coins we could scrape together. Each and every day Charlotte lived to bring happiness to others, and Christmas day was no different.

When Charlotte was very young, 3 years old, and Luke was 10 years old, she wrapped up the only gift she could find - a 30cm wooden ruler. Luke was incredibly grateful for the gift, not because he needed a ruler, but because, even in poverty, Charlotte had done her best to show she cared. The value of the ruler was irrelevant.

The following year, Luke came across a haphazardly wrapped, rectangular gift. It was the same wooden ruler from the previous year. Charlotte had managed to find the ruler in Luke's room, take it and wrap it up again.

Each and every year for the next 16 years, Charlotte's only gift to Luke was that exact same wooden ruler. Some years, Luke desperately tried to hide the ruler during the summer, but come Christmas time, the ruler had managed to find its way wrapped up and under the tree. As Charlotte grew older, she started to disguise the ruler, using empty tissue boxes and finished toilet rolls to shape the wrapping into more and more extravagant designs.

The most Christmas joy we all got was seeing how inventive Charlotte had been that year in disguising that same 30cm wooden ruler, and her face as Luke tore his way through the multitude of layers and filling material to discover, once again, that his gift was a 16 year-old 30cm wooden ruler.

Today, this ruler has pride of place in our living room, resting on our cabinet in the center of the room, surrounded by photos of Charlotte and Mum. For those people unaware of this story, the wooden ruler would seem a bit out of place. But to us, it is our most treasured item. That wooden ruler is priceless; every time we catch it in the corner of our eye, we are reminded of Charlotte's and Mum's smiles on Christmas morning as they watched the inevitable ruler-revealing unfold.

This gift from Charlotte helped us both realise the meaning of love and the true meaning of Christmas. We discovered that it does not matter how much money you spend on someone on Christmas or even throughout the year. Nothing can show your love and admiration for someone else as much as the gift of you; certainly no amount of money can substitute that.

This Christmas, we'd like everyone to join us in remembering our sister, Charlotte, and mum, Claire. For those with little money, and even those with lots of money, we hope you can all find your own 'wooden ruler' to gift to a loved one.

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