One of the most touching movie scenes I watched this past year was in The Diary of Anne Frank.

It left such an impression on me that I wrote that first sentence down over six months ago and saved it on my computer to make sure that I came back to the subject at Christmas time.

As you probably can well guess, Anne Frank and the 7 people that she shared a secret annex with in the final years of her life had very, very little to give. In fact, you'd probably think she and the others would have given up on the idea of exchanging gifts at all because of the empty drawers and growling bellies they dealt with each day.

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But in this movie, Anne did not give up.

Instead, we see a young woman who is determined to do something that we all can do no matter if we're talking about holiday gifts or everyday life scenarios:

Start from where you are, with what you have.

Anne Frank (1)

She was not only determined to add comfort to the people in her life, but also to continue on with the traditions of her holidays despite the horrifying situations unfolding just feet outside of her door.

With supplies leftover from whatever leftovers could be gleaned from a life interrupted + less than half the ration books needed for 8 people and a cat, she found a way to make everyone a gift:

  • Erased all the answers in a used Crossword Puzzle book and gave it to her sister, Margot, for enjoyment.
  • Made shampoo out of all the odds and ends of soap she could find (mixed with her toilet water) for Mrs. Van Daan.
  • Produced an IOU promising to do whatever her mother says for 10 hours.
  • Hand-knit a scarf to Mr. Frank with odds and ends.
  • Prepared two cigarettes for Mr. Van Daan from old pipe tobacco she had found in the lining of his jacket.
  • Procured a secondhand razor for Peter.
  • Crafted ear plugs out of cotton and candle wax for Dussel.

Of course Hollywood may have embellished this a bit, or changed the facts that they found necessary to change. But even in the original diary, Diary of a Young Girl, there are gift-giving references that are very touching, such as poems, lighting candles, and buying extra meat to make into sausages.

So here we are, just days before Christmas, and I'm called back to this lovely, moving scene and book. What I hope in writing this is that we can all be reminded of the true meaning of the holidays. For this holiday season and beyond, I'm adding one more addition to the age-old wisdom used in the title of this post, “…with the sole purpose of making your loved ones smile.”

Merry Christmas + Happy Holidays to you and yours.

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