The sack rattled the rickety table as their boss hoisted it up. Beautifully wrapped packages emerged one after another, no two alike. His three servants sat a little straighter, eyes wide and mouths ajar.
The boss arranged each package into three piles and turned to the first servant.
“John, you have proved a most valiant cattleman. The best I’ve ever had. To you I give these three gifts.”
John ripped into the first package and pulled out a wooden flute. John put it to his lips. There was no semblance of a tune in his amateurish attempts. The boss laughed and patted John on the shoulder.
“You need some practice. Open the next one.”
The second package contained a French/English Dictionary. John’s eyes lit up. He flipped through the pages, occasionally stopping to butcher a word or two.
His last gift held a set of colored pencils and a pad of sketching paper. He looked up, puzzled. The boss simply smiled.
“Trust me,” he said before turning to the second servant. “Paul, you have worked hard as assistant baker these last few years. These two gifts are for you.”
The two packages stood a good three feet high. Paul cautiously worked the paper from the first box. From out of its depths he pulled the largest bakers hat any of them had ever seen. Paul couldn’t believe it. Like a fish his mouth moved but nothing came out.
“Yes Paul. Hector is retiring, and I think you’d make a wonderful head baker.”
The second box held a smattering of unusual books. A few titles were: Counseling for Dummies, Troubled Teens, Drowning Your Sorrows in Brownies, and The Official Guide to Emotionally Baking Your Way Better.
As Paul perused the curious collection, the boss turned to his last servant.
“Thomas. You have been my personal assistant for many years now. I know it hasn’t always been easy. Hopefully this will compensate.”
Thomas looked on in despair. One box remained and it was no larger than a cricket. What could this insignificant carton possibly hold? Didn’t he deserve something more?
He took the gift, attempting to appear happy.
“I’d rather wait to open it, sir,” he said.
The boss looked disappointed, but left his friends to enjoy their new gifts. Thomas took the puny present into his bedroom. After fingering it for several seconds he shoved it underneath his bed.
Several months passed. Though John discovered he’d probably never make a great musician it didn’t stop him from giving mini-concerts for local children. The French language came surprisingly easy to him. As he began to master French John decided to try Spanish, and then Italian. Most remarkable was his hidden talent: John was an artist.
Astonished at how easily managing a kitchen came, Paul flourished under his new role. Guided by his gifts he began counseling troubled teens. He discovered they opened up far more readily with a brownie in hand. In no time he realized what they really needed was something productive to do with those hands. Soon his kitchen was full of enthusiastic, happy workers.
Every night Thomas pulled out the hateful little box, playing with it for several minutes before tossing it back under the bed. His resentment to his boss, his friends, and his life grew at an alarming rate. Didn’t he deserve the same happiness the others received from such wonderful gifts?
One day Thomas began packing. As though he knew, the boss appeared at his bedroom door. Several wordless seconds passed before he entered and sat on a chair. “You never opened my gift.”
Thomas reached under the bed. With a huff he handed the tattered little package back to the boss and hoisted his suitcase off the bed.
“Don’t you even want to know what was in it?”
Thomas paused in the doorway, head cocked.
The boss stood beside his assistant. He opened the box and pulled out a tiny bottle. “It’s faith mixed with God’s Love. Of all my servants I thought you deserved this precious gift.”
The suitcase fell from Thomas’ hand.
“Thomas, you could have blessed so many lives. Just because the gift seems small… John and Paul have found happiness in sharing their gifts, but you-” The boss shook his head. “You hid yours and now I must take it away.”
Thomas looked on in disbelief as the boss slowly walked back towards the main house, meeting John along the way. The Master held out a little bottle.
And Thomas wept.
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