The Santa’s Gift is a short story written by Paromita Goswami who lives in central India, so Indian culture, attitudes, and ways of speaking flow throughout the story. It is about almost 11-year-old know-it-all Toby who winds up learning some lessons about life. He thinks his mother should make sure he has clean socks every day, but she is overwhelmed with her job and household duties without the help of her maid. She thinks Toby is old enough to take on some responsibilities himself, so she stops washing the extra clothes he gets dirty. When he starts to run out of clothes, he wears shoes without socks to play ball and suffers the consequences. This short story is really two stories in one when a group of kids show up at the front door collecting donations for the needy. After Toby puts together his donation and participates in the group’s Christmas activities, he realizes the importance of caring about others, including his mom. He also learns that a small gift that doesn’t cost much can be more meaningful and have more value than the bigger gift he's been wanting all along.
In a note at the end of The Santa’s Gift, Paromita Goswami wrote that she wanted to write a story with a theme about pursuing happiness. She wanted to show that parenting is not easy and that kids can be influenced in the most unexpected ways and by the smallest things. I think she met her goal. The Santa’s Gift is a serious but cheerful look into how all of us can take things for granted sometimes. It’d be a good story for 8-12-year-olds to read with their parents because it teaches the lesson that we appreciate what we have more when we see other people’s needs and reach out to help them. Reading about the disagreement that Toby is having with his mom could help parents and kids understand each other better because it shows the different ways people think about and react to the situations they face. The story winds up reminding us how sometimes we don’t know as much about everything as we think we do. Real life always has something to teach us, and we should be as caring and helpful to the people in our own families as we are to friends, acquaintances, or needy people in our communities.