Christmas is for love. It is for joy, for giving and for sharing, for laughter, for reuniting with family and old friends, for tinsel and brightly decorated packages. But mostly it is for love. I had not believed this until a small elf-like student with wide, innocent eyes and soft rosy cheeks gave me a wondrous gift one Christmas.
Mark was an 11-year-old orphan who lived with his aunt—a bitter middle-aged woman greatly annoyed with the burden of caring for her dead sister’s small son. She never failed to remind young Mark that, but for her generosity, he would be a vagrant homeless waif. Still, with all the scolding and chilliness at home, he was a sweet and gentle child.
I had not noticed Mark particularly until he began staying after class each day (at the risk of arousing his aunt’s anger, I later found) to help me straighten up the classroom. We did this quietly and comfortably, not speaking much, but enjoying the solitude for that hour of the day. When we did talk, Mark spoke mostly about his mother. Though he was quite small when she died, he remembered a kind, gentle, loving woman, who always spent much time with him.
As Christmas grew nearer, however, Mark failed to stay after school each day. I looked forward to his coming, and when, as the days passed, he continued to scamper hurriedly from the room after class, I stopped him one afternoon and asked why he no longer helped me in the room.
“I miss being with you, Mark. Is something wrong at home?”
Those large gray eyes eagerly lit up. “Did you really miss me?”
“Yes, of course. You’re my best helper.”
“I was making you a surprise for Christmas,” he whispered confidentially.
With that, he became embarrassed and dashed from the room. He didn’t stay after school anymore after that.
Finally came the last day of school before the holidays. Mark crept slowly into the room late that afternoon with his hands concealing something behind his back.
“I have your present,” He said timidly when I looked up. “I hope you like it.”
He held out his hands, and there lying in his small palm was a tiny wooden chest.
“It’s beautiful, Mark. Is there something in it?” I asked, opening the top and looking in.
“Oh, you can’t see what’s in it,” he replied, “and you can’t touch it or taste it, but Mother always said it makes you feel good all the time, and warm on cold nights, and safe when you’re all alone.”
I gazed into the empty box. “What is it, Mark?” I asked gently. “What will make me feel so good?”
“It’s love,” he whispered softly,” and Mother always said it’s best when you give it away.” And he turned and quietly left the room.
So now I keep a small toy chest, crudely made of scraps of wood, on the piano in my living room, and only smile as inquiring friends raise quizzical eyebrows when I explain to them there is love in it.
Yes, Christmas is for gaiety and mirth and song, for rich food and wondrous gifts. But mostly, Christmas is for love.—Laurie
Courtesy of www.anchor.tfionline.com.