ZELLA COMPTON: The joy of receiving that changed a life

The music to The Snowman made a lifelong impression for one young woman
The music to The Snowman made a lifelong impression for one young woman
Have your say

I love this time of year when small Christmas stories stir into life and beat the adverts at emotional shredding.

I read, in a long series of tweets, about a young woman who’d received the best ever Christmas gift when she nine.

In a nutshell, she and her younger sister lived with dad and his pop-in girlfriend, and mum would come to visit once in a while.

It was a time of arguments and uncertainty so the young woman took it upon herself to make her younger sister’s Christmas better by hiding gifts from the elves around the house for her to find. An elf advent calendar if you like, sparkly bits and bobs, a star-shaped soap, that kind of thing.

She was making the journey through December magical for her sister.

The dad’s girlfriend noticed this was going on and said something along the lines of ‘it’s a shame no one does that for you’.

That could have been the end of the story, but a few tweets later we discover that the young woman was trying to teach herself The Snowman on the piano, figuring out the notes as she went.

One morning she found an envelope pushed through the door with The Snowman’s piano music in it, the envelope covered in glitter, and a note saying it was for her, ‘from the elves’. Our adult eyes see the girlfriend of course.

That the young girl, now a woman, would write about such a small thing, but such a wonderful thing, someone noticing her for who she is and what she wanted and needed, the simplicity of the kindness, touched a good proportion of the twittersphere. The impact that one small gift made, shaped so much of her childhood.

I suppose none of us can know the impact that we have on others, not truly, and how our actions will resonate thorough the years.

It’s interesting to think about it though, especially if you combine that with another social media post last week which asked: if when people travel back in time they are so worried about changing everything with one small action, why do we believe that our small actions today won’t make a difference to the future?

The sometimes girlfriend has now caused thousands of strangers to shed a tear, and a thought about what present-giving is about – not the biggest, brightest, most expensive thing – the item that notices the recipient for who they are. She made a difference to the future. Wonderful.


Seemingly Sadiq Khan is planning on getting more water fountains installed in London.

Great. I think this is something we need to look at locally too, or at least develop some kind of scheme where shops and other businesses will refill water bottles.

Some might argue it’s taking away retail business, but since I went into a restaurant and asked for a refill (which was given very nicely) I’ve told five or six people about Grillstock, how lovely its interior and staff are (it’s in Bath, to the left of the railway station).

Let’s get ahead of the game and sticker-up businesses who will do this, who will help decrease the amount of plastic water bottles being fed to the environment.


I was asked to donate a promise for a charity fundraiser.

Yikes, those are hard aren’t they? You’re willing to give up your time, or do something, but the tsunami of doubt crashes around you wondering what you can offer that anyone will, realistically, bid for. Not the pity bid of a loved one either who doesn’t want to see you embarrassed.

I hit on the idea of offering to name one of my characters in a play I write next year after the highest bidder.

It was only when the auction was in full swing I realised I might end up with a name so extraordinary I wouldn’t be able to slot it into anything.

Luckily, the highest bidder was a Ricardo which is an eminently workable name.

And, did you see what I did there, getting ahead of the game?