Tonight. Right now.
The snowfall of the day softly lay at ground level similar to a white blanket lying across plush turf. The flakes that continue to fall glisten like stars raining down from the heavens, illuminated only by the limited moon glow and a few streetlights. Streetlights that are not typically noticed now stand majestically as if towers protruding from a bank of white clouds. The road stretching into darkness is eerily quiet, as most families remain secure behind the closed doors of their homes preparing for morning.
Gray smoke from burning wood billows from chimneys perched on the snow covered rooftops of houses and eventually disappears as it mixes with the gray-black of the nighttime sky. It’s obvious that the Christmas holiday is here and Mother Nature has cooperated fully with the dreams of every child, and those adults who have retained a little bit of child within them.
My fondest memories remind me that this is the night that moms and dads will try to convince their children that sleep is indeed necessary. After all, the impending visit by a man clad in red velvet is only a few hours away. But these same children are filled with excitement and anticipation, making it difficult to honor their parent’s request.
As the door softly closes behind me, sealing out the harshness of the winter night, I sense the peace that fills our abode this night. A peace that is only realized on this special and magical eve.
A slight aroma of pine draws my attention to the tree we’ve adorned with brightly colored lights and fragile glass ornaments. A tree which stands proud over the gifts we have so carefully selected and are sure to bring smiles to those who will receive them tomorrow. But my focus is drawn to one particular package that I’d not seen before.
It was a small box, no more than half a foot square, covered with plain brown paper wrapping, and “To be opened on Christmas Eve” written in small block letters.
“Who sent us this package”, I asked. “Where did it come from?”
“It was left on the front step and I brought it in.”, was the reply.
“Wasn’t there any other note, tag, or mention of who might have left it?”
“No, just the package as you see it there.”
With curiosity I carefully picked up the small box, not able to imagine who had left it or what it might contain, and I began to methodically separate the tape from the paper to gain entry.
With the outer wrapping removed I slowly lifted the lid to reveal its emptiness. I looked into the small vessel, as if looking into a never-ending cavern, only to find a solitary piece of paper which had been deliberately folded in half and then in half again.
Rescuing the prize from the box I stared at the folded parchment I held. Curious of its content but apprehensive of what I might find.
Unfolding it once, I stopped and stared at the box again and thought, “Who would have done this…who would have sent a package to my home with only this in it?” Then, unfolding it for a second time, the message was visible. In the handwriting of a child were three words: Hope, Peace, Love.
At that very moment I heard a soft knock on the door.
Still holding the cryptic message I walked through the room and opened the door. Standing there was a woman and a little girl, aged seven or eight years old. Neither of them could I remember ever seeing before, yet for some reason they were very familiar to me.
With excitement the little girl said, “Mommy, he got my present!” I looked at the mother and then at the paper I had just unwrapped and then back down to the girl.
In hopes of getting an answer to the mystery, I knelt down on one knee to be at the level of the child, and to her I displayed the paper I held in my hand. “You sent this to me? But, why?”
The mother stood silent as the little girl began to speak, “Because Daddy went home.”
Not quite understanding what she was saying I repeated what she had said in question, “Daddy went home?”
She continued, “Daddy went home to live with God, so we can’t give presents this Christmas. But I wanted to get you something. I asked God to give me something that I could wrap for you today and that’s what I want you to have. God says that all you got to do is ask for it and you’ll get it!”
Hope, Peace, Love.
I looked back down at those three words, both in an effort to hide my tears and to understand the little girl’s wishes, and when I looked back up, the girl and her mother were gone.
As I turned away from the door I heard the news report. “Thirty-two-year-old Rebecca Taylor and her seven-year-old daughter Dawn are the latest deaths in a tragic . . .”
NO! This can’t be!
I ran out of the door to the curb in hopes of finding the little girl and her mother. I ran down the street and then up the street, searching, needing to find them. I had to make certain that wasn’t them identified on television. It couldn’t be them! They were just here, alive and talking to me!
Then I noticed something. At all of the houses for as far as I could see they were there. Little boxes, wrapped in plain brown paper. One on each doorstep.
It is sometimes easy to get caught up in the material things associated with Christmas. Sometimes to the point that we forget what the true meaning of Christmas is. When we give something to someone, it doesn’t have to be tangible. It doesn’t have to be something we buy. It can be something that we’ve always had, all we had to do was share it.
Honestly, I don’t know if any of this was real or a just a dream. But if there are angels among us, Dawn is one and she’d want you to have the present she gave me. So, from that little girl on my doorstep and me, we give you three things this Christmas: Hope, Peace and Love.
Merry Christmas and God Bless!