A Gift in the Night

by Anne Neuberger
St. Nicholas Center Collection

Nicholas wrapped several gold coins into a cloth bag. He smiled, feeling cheerful for the first time in months.

He had been a happy child. His loving parents taught him about God and to do God's work by helping others. Now he was a teen, and both his parents had just died. Nicholas decided to become a priest in his uncle's monastery. He could not bring his great wealth, so he followed his parents' example of helping others with it, giving it away before he joined his uncle.

A neighbor man had troubles with his business and became poor. Now his three daughters could not get married. Nicholas had heard about this and made his plan.

He left his house quietly late that night. He wanted to give a gift in secret, so he kept to the shadows. The home of the three young women was dark and quiet. Nicholas snuck up to the window and dropped the bag of gold inside. Then he ran!

Soon there was great rejoicing in the neighborhood as the eldest of the daughters got married. Nicholas smiled and prepared another bag of gold.

The happy family never expected to get another gift. But a second bag of gold arrived, with no giver in sight! Amid rejoicing, the second daughter was married.

The thankful family now dared to hope for help for the third daughter. The father stayed awake late into the night, waiting and listening.

It all happened as before, but this time the father chased and caught Nicholas. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" he shouted. "We are so grateful!"

"Sh! Sh!" Nicholas said. "I'm happy to have helped. That's thanks enough for me! Please, please don't tell anyone it was me!"

The father left quietly, but he must have told someone that it was Nicholas, who told someone, who told someone else, for you are hearing about it hundreds and hundreds of years later!

From A Circle of Saints: Stories and Activities for Children Ages 4–8 by Anne Neuberger, © 2009, Twenty-third Publications, New London, Connecticut. Used by permission.

Stories and activities organized by season: Advent, Christmas and early winter; Ordinary Time and mid-winter; Lent, Easter, Pentecost and spring; Ordinary Time and summer; Ordinary Time and autumn. There are six saints for each season, each with a story and suggestions for activities, food, decorations and prayer.

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