A childhood memory of 'nicest gift' prompts festive cheer

Hayley Webster and the tweet she sent Image copyright Hayley Webster @bookshaped

'Tis the season to be giving and just as we plan presents for loved ones, we also remember the gifts we've received and sometimes it's the smallest things which make the biggest memories of all.

For Hayley Webster it was a piece of sheet music. She decided to share the memory on Twitter, but has told the BBC she never expected it to resonate with as many people as it did.

"I'm going to write a thread about the nicest Christmas gift I ever received. I was nine years old. I think it cost the person who gave it to me about £1.50," Hayley posted on Sunday.

She went on to describe a time when she and her sister were living with their dad, as her parents were "not in a good place".

She didn't see her mum much, but her dad's girlfriend was around and "made things nice".

In the run-up to Christmas, Hayley went out of her way to make things special for her little sister, then four years old.

She put tinsel around her spoon, cut her sandwiches into snowflakes and left glitter footprints around the house.

Her dad's girlfriend noticed this and said it was a shame no-one did it for her.

Later that week, Hayley received a thank you gift from Santa's elves; piano sheet music for We're Walking in the Air, from The Snowman.

That gift, she said, taught her "what it means to be noticed for who you are", adding that it has lasted "as warmth" her whole life.

"Notice people... Not just at Christmas," she urged.

Within 24 hours the original tweet had attracted more than 40,000 likes and almost 12,000 retweets.

Among those to share it was author JK Rowling, who said: "This is so beautiful".

"I've never had anything that's gone so big before, it's very exciting," Hayley said.

"I was just thinking about what I remember the most about Christmas as a child and this was it," Hayley said.

"It's just a small thing about noticing people and it's a thing we can forget to do."

Hayley lives in Norfolk with a daughter of her own and said her sister still remembers the small gestures Hayley did for her and which she now does for her own children.

The story prompted an emotional response online, with many admitting to crying over their keyboards.

"Totally sobbing right now," wrote one user.

"I'm not crying, you're crying," wrote another.

Meanwhile, others shared the nicest gifts they had ever received as a child, including a tiny notepad and pencil for a teddy bear destined to be a writer and a home made doll's house.

Hayley - who writes children's books under the name Hayley Scott - said this story could even find its way into a future book.

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