Sally and Sam didn't know what to do. Mother's Day was only a few days away and they still hadn't gotten their mother a present.
"If daddy were here he'd give us some money and take us to the store so we could buy something!" Sam grumbled.
"Maybe he'll get back before Mother's Day," Sally said hopefully.
"No, when I talked to him on the phone last night he said grandpa is still very sick and he had to stay and drive grandma to and from the hospital," Sam answered sadly.
"I guess it's nice for grandma that he's there, but I miss him. Mother does too. I heard her crying last night," Sally told her brother in a hushed voice, looking around first to make sure their mother hadn't entered the room.
"Maybe she's worried about grandpa," Sam said, "The first thing she asks daddy when he calls is how Grandpa Miller is feeling.
"I heard Mrs. Foster say a wife's place is next to her husband," Sally said with a frown, remembering what she had overheard the next door neighbor say when they had gone over to help the older woman hang some new curtains.
"What did mother say about that?" Sam wanted to know.
"Mother said there wasn't enough money for her to go back east, and besides, it was no place for children at a time like this."
"A time like what?" Sam asked, but Sally only shrugged.
"I don't know. Mother saw I was listening and changed the subject."
"Perhaps we could ask daddy to send us some money next time he calls," Sam said, returning to their Mother's Day dilemma. "I'll bet Mrs. Foster would take us shopping so we could get a present in time for Sunday."
"There's not enough time for daddy to send something through the mail," Sally told him. "Besides, if there isn't enough money for mother to go with daddy to see Grandma and Grandpa Miller, then I don't think we should ask daddy to send us any. Don't you have any money saved from your allowance?"
Sam shook his head. "Not much," he admitted. "I've put almost all my money into the vacation jar."
The vacation jar was an old coffee can that Mr. and Mrs. Miller had helped the children wrap in bright red construction paper and then glue pictures of Disney characters on. There were pictures of Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck, Whinny the Pooh with his arm around Piglet, and many other less favorite characters in various positions all over the can. Every week Daddy would put some money in the vacation jar, saying that the sooner they had enough saved up, the sooner they could take the children to Disneyland. Sally and Sam almost always added some of their allowance to the jar. They had never been to Disneyland, but a number of their friends had, and had told them how much fun it was. The family had been putting money in the jar for over a year, and father had said that perhaps by this spring they would have enough saved up for a Disneyland vacation.
"Maybe we could borrow some from the vacation jar," Sally said thoughtfully. "I mean, it's our money, in a way. Remember how daddy told mother if it was just the two of them they'd probably never go anywhere near as exciting?"
Sam shook his head. "That would be stealing," he told his sister. "Besides, if we take money out of the can we might not be able to go to Disneyland this spring."
"Sally, Sam, time for supper!" Mother's voice called from the kitchen.
Sally and Sam were unusually quiet during supper. When their father called that evening they were happy, but somehow hearing his voice made them miss him all the more. Mother spoke cheerfully to Mr. Miller, but after she hung up she looked so sad that Sally and Sam felt she must miss their father even more than they did.
Every night since as long ago as they could remember, Sally and Sam had been read a bible story before going to bed. Mr. Miller usually read to them while Mrs. Miller cleaned up in the kitchen, but since he had been away their mother had been reading them their stories. This night she read them a story from Mark twelve.
"Jesus sat near the treasury, watching as the people gave their offerings," their mother read from their Bible Story Book. "Many that were rich came and cast in much. Jesus watched as one poor widow approached and threw in two small coins. When Jesus saw this he called his disciples over, and told them, 'I say unto you, that this poor widow has given more than all the rest that have cast into the treasury. For they gave out of their abundance, but she, though poor, has given all that she has to live off of.'"
"You mean she put all her money into the collection box?" Sam asked. "How did she buy food?"
"Or pay her taxes?" Sally added, remembering the taxes her parents had paid the month before.
"She knew that God blesses those who trust in Him," their mother explained. " Jesus tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. He says we're not to worry about our life; what we're going to eat, or what we're going to wear. There are more important things than food, and clothing. Jesus told us to consider the ravens. They don't plant seeds or harvest crops, they don't have storehouses or barns, and yet God feeds them. He tells us that we're much more valuable than the birds! If God takes care of the birds, don't you think He will take care of us too? The widow knew that God would provide for her. I expect He blessed her with even more than she gave because she honored Him by giving from her heart and trusted Him to supply her needs."
Sally and Sam went to bed, but neither of them fell asleep for a very long time.
The next day there was much whispering and activity. Mrs. Miller smiled as she cleaned up overlooked scraps of paper and put the glue jar away. She knew that the children didn't have the money to buy her a Mother's Day present, but she didn't need expensive presents. She would be just as happy with the homemade cards she assumed the children had made for her.
The children could hardly wait for Sunday to arrive. They got up early and cooked breakfast. Hot cereal with orange juice and toast. When mother came down she found the table set with their best bowls and silverware and breakfast waiting.
"That was a very nice Mother's Day present," she told the children when they had finished eating.
"That's not all," Sam said grinning broadly. He opened a cupboard and pulled out a large package with a card taped to the top.
"What's this?" mother asked as Sam laid the colorful package in her lap.
"Open it!" Sally and Sam exclaimed at the same time.
Mother opened the card first. It was a large piece of cardboard covered with yellow paper upon which the children had glued pictures of hearts and flowers that they had cut from colored construction paper. Across the top of the card they had written the words, "HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY'.
"This is beautiful!" Mother cried, "The best card I've every gotten!"
"Open the package now!" Sally cried, clapping her hands together happily.
"I don't understand," Mother said, staring down at the familiar jar that lay exposed in her lap.
"We decided that you should use the money in the vacation jar to go visit Grandpa and Grandma Miller," Sam told her a little shyly. "We can save up more money to go to Disneyland when daddy gets back. Right now daddy's all alone. Mrs. Foster said she would be happy to take care of us while you're gone."
"What made you think of giving me the vacation jar for a present?" Mother asked, putting the jar on the table and gathering her children into her arms. "You've been so looking forward to going on this trip!"
"Well," Sally explained, "We decided if that poor widow could give everything she had, we could give up our vacation. Besides, if God was able to bless the widow, He can bless us too."
"God has already blessed me!" Mother told them proudly. "You children have given me more than money. You've done a wonderful unselfish thing. That is the best Mother's Day present any mother could ever receive!"