My brother Chris has always been extremely money conscious. As a kid he would ''bank'' his allowance the moment he got it, while I would gleefully run off to the corner store to see what yummy candy I could treat myself to. He saved and saved all his money for years. When he and his wife first got married, she bought a package of cheese that Chris felt was way too expensive. Yep, he made her return it to the store for a cheaper package -- cheese! Our family joke was that he was so tight he could rub two nickels together and squeeze out a dime. You get the picture.... We could never understand how his sweet, beautiful wife tolerated his miserly ways.
Debbie's sister had had a child when she was very young and really wasn't in a position to raise this baby, so Debbie's mother did it alone, on a shoestring budget. When Krystal was ten years old, Debbie decided that enough was enough. She asked Chris if they could take Krystal into their family and raise her as their own. By now, Chris and Debbie already had two young children and were living on a single income. I just knew that there was no possibility that Chris was going to agree to add to his financial burden.
To all of our surprise, he did. Krystal came to live with my brother's family and instantly became ''his'' daughter. Chris treated Krystal no differently from the way he treated his own children. In an ironic twist, Krystal was older than the other kids so Chris had to shell out money for her big ticket items -- high school clothes, a car, college, and, eventually, her wedding -- before his own children came due. And he did it.
I am so proud of my little brother. He opened his heart to accept, raise, and love someone else's child as much as he loves his own children. Now we all know why Debbie tolerated his penny pinching. She saw the generous heart beating inside his outward miserliness and knew that that was what mattered most.
This holiday season, may we all find that love and acceptance inside of ourselves and give selflessly, love a little more, and most of all, appreciate what is really important -- our families.