The Christmas gift
A blizzard was raging through the tiny village of Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire,
on the evening of Christmas in the year of our Lord 1642.
The future young father paced back and forth while the midwife
busied herself in his wife's bedroom. The child would be born any
Suddenly, an appalling noise was heard: first on the roof
and then in the snow-covered garden. "I hope a tree
hasn't fallen onto the house!", he thought. "How jolly it
would be to spend Christmas with a fir tree in the front room."
He hurtled down the stairs four at a time, shrugged on a thick fur
coat and threw open the front door.
Instantly, snow swirled into the house.
The first thing he saw in the flurry was the overturned sleigh, a
fat man swearing loudly and what looked like several small beasts
He waved the man into his home. "Spend the rest of the night
inside, where it's warm," he told him, "we'll see what we
can do tomorrow."
The traveller hurried inside, where he shook the snow off his
The fat little man was strangely dressed in red. His white beard
and hair made it hard to guess his age with any accuracy.
"This weather's so bad not even a reindeer can go outside!",
The young man invited him into the kitchen for a bite to eat. No
sooner had he served him a nice hot meal when a cry was heard from
upstairs. "It's a boy, and a fine-looking one at that!", the
The new father hurried to his wife's side.
By the next morning, the blizzard had given way to calmer weather.
The fat man was ready to leave; the reindeer had been hitched back
up to his sleigh.
"I would like to thank you for your warm welcome," he said. "Sometimes
I get a bit lost on my way home! So let me give you a gift.
Unfortunately, all I have left are six toys: go ahead and choose one
for your child. They are magical and could favour his destiny."
He removed each object one by one from his sack.
"The Box of Lady Fortune
will ensure that he is a wealthy banker;
the Scarab of History will encourage him to discover extinct
civilisations; the Apple of Knowledge will bring him fame in the
world of science; the Shell of Adventure will take him to unexplored
parts of the world; the public will sing his praises if you choose
the Poet's Quill; and Pandora's Box ... well, I'll let you discover
that surprise for yourselves. Let chance determine which one of
these toys to choose and your child will have a brilliant future."
And so it was that Lady Luck decided that he should have the Apple of
"Perhaps one day he'll be able to explain why you landed in
my garden!" the young father said.
"Perhaps," replied the jolly fat man, adjusting his red
cap. "Now I must take my leave of you, but tell me, before I go,
what did you decide to name your boy?".
"Isaac", his father said, "Isaac Newton!"