The Anonymous Gift

Elaine and Marie lived in the same apartment building and had now been friends for over three years. In between work and college classes, they would take turns watching their favorite streaming shows or just talk.

Marie had an old laptop of her dad’s that she used for school. It ran slower and slower, and one by one the programs she needed for her coursework stopped working as the software companies’ support for her out-of-date operating system ran out.

She frequently related the woes of her aging technology to Elaine. The bigger problem was the  lack of money she needed to buy a newer computer.

Elaine wished she could do something to help—and then she could. She received a bonus from her job. As Elaine considered what to use the money on, Marie knocked on her door and asked if she could borrow Elaine’s computer for a specific homework assignment.

When Marie went home, Elaine went shopping online, a sort of devious giddiness bringing a smile to her face.

Several days later, Elaine could see on the shipping carrier’s website that the package had arrived at Marie’s doorstep. She couldn’t wait to see Marie’s reaction.

Sure enough, Marie showed up, her eyes aglow. “Look what showed up today!” she cried as she stepped inside. She held up and ran a hand over a sleek new laptop. “I can’t believe it! I didn’t think it was for me, but there it was—my name on the shipping label!”

Marie sat down in her usual place in Elaine’s living room. She went on, “Check it out! It connected to my wifi without a problem! The apps I need downloaded and installed super fast. It runs like a dream. This is so cool!”

“I’m so happy for you!” Elaine said. “I thought you couldn’t afford a laptop like that, though.”

“I couldn’t. Still can’t.” Marie shrugged. “I must have won a contest or something, even though I can’t remember entering any. The manufacturer is the only other name on the shipping label. There’s no message inside from anyone. It could be from my dad, but he doesn’t really do things like this. I got lucky somehow. I guess I can stop complaining about my old computer to you now.”

Elaine nodded as Marie continued to gush about the laptop. Elaine’s own initial excitement had waned. She had imagined an outpouring of gratitude when Marie came over and guessed that it must have been Elaine’s gift to her to show how much their friendship meant. But Marie seemed clueless, and Elaine didn’t have the heart to point out what in her mind was plain as day.

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3 thoughts on “The Anonymous Gift

  1. armstrong258wp 9 March 2023 / 11:50 am

    Unfortunately, I can relate to Elaine’s disappointment. Elaine is a victim of a heart condition called pride. She wanted to do something good, but she wanted to do it for the wrong reason. She wanted the praise and gratitude from her friend more than she wanted to see her friend happy and her problem solved. I, like Elaine, am something of a Pharisee in sheep’s clothing. The joy should be in the giving, not in the gratitude returned. I’m grateful the Savior is a much better person than I am.


    • Ben Minson 10 March 2023 / 4:58 pm

      Thanks for your comment! It’s a different angle than I was coming from when I wrote it, but you make a good point and you may have found a fatal flaw in the story. 🙂


      • armstrong258wp 10 March 2023 / 5:57 pm

        The story is by no way fatally flawed. The power and beauty of parables is that we can get multiple meanings from the same story. We can hang many interpretations on any given story and the story is still just as good.


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