The Ultimate Gift

Last night, I watched the movie “Ultimate Gift” as recommended by my friend David Etter. This movie is on my short list of movies to show in Germany as a teaching tool. The story is “simple” enough because the motifs resonate. Of course, some movie reviewers said this movie was too preachy and self-righteous. That is true, if you are cynical and don’t think much of the human race. Everyone has the capacity to grow.


The story: All his life, Jason is surrounded by riches. He has a nice car, very nice apartment, good looking girlfriend, and lots of friends. When his grandfather passes, Jason is given a box that has a series of “gifts”. Jason sees only the material as worthwhile, especially money. Thinking the gifts are more money or wealth, he picks up the first “gift” in Texas – at the ranch of his grandfather’s friend Gus. The first gift: the gift of work. Jason works for Gus for a month. He returns home to find himself homeless, friendless, and possession-less. He meets a young girl and her mother. Through them, he discovers the rest of gifts: friendship, family, gratitude, laughter, dreams, money, problems, giving, the gift of a day, and love. He suffered a kidnapping in the jungles of Ecuador to learn the truth about his father who had died years ago. After passing the tests, he is a new man and uses the final bequest to help others in a grand fashion. I won’t give away more the plot; however, young actress Abigail Breslin is a huge scene stealer.

To sum up the twelve problems:

  • The Gift of Work
  • The Gift of Friends
  • The Gift of Money
  • The Gift of Family
  • The Gift of Learning
  • The Gift of Problems
  • The Gift of Laughter
  • The Gift of Giving
  • The Gift of Gratitude
  • The Gift of a Day
  • The Gift of Dreams
  • The Gift of Love

The one gift that I don’t know how to describe and discuss is the “Gift of Problems”. How can problems be a good thing? Perhaps problems are good because they are a testing point of all other virtues and values. We don’t know what skills we have until we have problems. In the Book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon writes that is better to go to the house of mourning. Interesting thought. Everyone wants to be problem free, but that is not the way life is. If you were problem free, you would not be human; you’d be a dog. If you were problem free, you would never know good life can be. ‘Red Stephens’ – the grandfather in the movie – said: “I lost everything three, four times. That’s a good place to start.” Maybe that is a good thing because by clearing the slate, you can start again, having recognizing  your mistakes so you know what not to do next time.

Everyone has to the capacity to grow.  In this movie, Jason lost several things. Perhaps he realized that these were things not worth having in the first place, or if they were worth having, they were only a shadow of the best. He had a shallow girlfriend in the beginning and ended up with, well, I won’t give away that plot.

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