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I wish you the best during these Advent and Christmas seasons!
I honestly should have been paying more attention to which ornament I grabbed next. I didn’t really know what to expect and I had a lot of ornaments to pick up anyway. It wasn’t until the room started to change that I looked down to see which ornament I had in my hand.
It was your wedding ornament. It had a married couple and your wedding date on it. That married couple I held in my hand was also standing in front of me staring into each other’s eyes. It looked like they were ready to kiss. Ew!
They didn’t look anything like you. That ornament, you will remember, has a guy wearing a suit with a black mustache. The bride is wearing all white and she has brown curly hair. Dad doesn’t have a mustache and Mom, your hair isn’t even brown.
I was ready to receive my lesson so I could move on to the other ornaments, but the couple barely even noticed I was there.
“Hello?” I said. “I’m ready for my Christmas lesson.”
“I love you,” said the groom to his bride.
“I love you more,” said the bride with a smile.
It was pretty gross. I tried to get their attention again basically yelling at them to let them know I was there. Finally, they turned to look at me.
“Oh, hi there little boy,” said the bride. “What are you doing here?”
“What am I doing here? I’m here to learn about Christmas,” I said.
“Christmas? What do you mean you are here to learn about Christmas? It’s our wedding day,” said the groom.
“Huh?” I said. “No, it is Christmas and you are supposed to teach me a lesson.”
“Teach you a lesson? About Christmas?” said the bride. “That is strange.”
“Hey honey,” said the groom. “Look there is a Christmas tree over there. Maybe that will help.”
He was pointing behind me. We were actually standing on a sidewalk outside a house that I didn’t recognize. There was a Christmas tree in the front window.
“C’mon, let’s go!” said the bride and she pulled her husband over to the house. I followed and felt a little weird walking in someone’s yard. I didn’t feel bad about it for very long, though, because when I looked in the window with the wedding ornament people, I saw you two sitting there on the couch.
“What is she saying?” said the bride.
I listened closely and to my surprise I could hear you. Mom, you were crying. You were looking up at the tree with your hands folded like you were praying. Dad, you were sitting next to Mom with your arms around her.
Here’s the prayer I heard you say:
“Lord, you have blessed us so much this year. I love this man, my new husband, with everything I have. We want to share that love with a child. We’ve been trying, Lord. Oh, we have been trying. This is a season of hope and we place our trust in you. We look to you with hope in the birth of a child all our own.”
I realized then how young you looked. I wasn’t born yet. You were praying for me. Before I could think much about it, though, the married couple next to me burst out in tears. They wrapped their arms around each other and cried on each others’ shoulders.
“Hey, it’s OK,” I said to them. “She was praying about me. I’m their son. Her prayer was answered.”
They both wiped their tears from their faces and looked at me. “Really?” said the bride.
“Yes, really!” I said. “The prayer worked!”
“Her hope worked?” asked the groom.
“Her hope? Yeah, I guess so. She did pray about hope, didn’t she?” I said.
They turned to each other again and the bride said, “Oh there is so much for us to hope for! We have our whole lives ahead of us. I am so excited to share this life with you!”
“But what if something goes wrong?” said the groom. “What if our dreams don’t come true like this couple?” He pointed to you, Mom and Dad, through the window.
“That’s what I am trying to say,” I said. “I’m here. Their dreams did come true. God gave them me as a gift.”
The couple knelt down and folded their hands in prayer. They started to pray:
“Lord, we place our hope in you.”
The vision started to fade and a moment later I was back in our living room holding the ornament.
I hung it on the tree and looked around for the next one.
Mom and Dad, there were a lot of ornaments on the ground. I mean, you remember how badly I knocked over that tree, don’t you? Well, I could say a lot about the lessons I learned from all those ornaments.
For example, listen to the lesson I learned from the turtle ornament. You know the one I’m talking about right? It is that smiling turtle with the Santa Clause hat on his head. Well, after a very long and slow conversation with that guy, he finally helped me understand the importance of patience leading up to Christmas. December and Advent can feel like forever, but the patience makes Christmas so much better when it comes.
Or, there was the reindeer ornament. He taught me how to fly, but surprised me when I was tied up on a sleigh. He showed me the importance of serving others during this holiday season. That’s what the reindeer do. They serve by pulling that sleigh. It made me think about all the ways I could do a little more around the house to help you out especially during this Christmas season.
There were probably a dozen of those fancy ball ornaments. Each one of them helped me appreciate the beauty of the Christmas season. I looked into each one and saw so many beautiful things about the winter that were amazing to witness. We can get so wrapped up in the idea of gifts and presents that it’s hard to slow down and see how many beautiful things there are to see at this time of year. Anyway, that’s what those ornaments taught me.
There were a lot of ornaments and a lot of lessons. Maybe some day I will tell you more about them, but I want to get to the last ornament and probably the most important lesson of any of the ornaments. I had to reach under the couch to find it and when I did it made me smile. The three of us made this ornament together a few years ago.
It was the Santa Claus.
Holding that ornament in my hand, I thought for sure I would see the North Pole and all of Santa’s elves. That’s not where I was at all. In fact, it didn’t even look cold where I was because there were rain puddles all around.
The houses were strange–not like the ones we have today. This must have been a very long time ago.
I heard someone crying and I turned to see not just one but three young ladies who were very upset in a nearby house. An older man knelt down in front of them. He was sad, too. They were all very upset.
I walked a little closer to see if they were OK. I wasn’t worried about them seeing me as I looked and listen through their house window because I knew I was only able to talk to the ornaments in these visions. Obviously, none of them was Santa Claus.
I listened and although they were speaking in a different language, I was still able to understand what they said. It was really strange to understand words that I didn’t know.
I’ll summarize what I heard. Basically, the young girls wanted to get married, but their father didn’t have the money they needed in order to get married. I’m not sure why he needed all that money for them to marry someone, but I guess it was pretty important. They even said that they would have to be sold as slaves without that money to get married! No wonder they were upset!
Eventually, the girls left the room still in tears. It was getting dark outside so they must have went up to bed. Their father started hanging some wet clothes by their fire. He lined up a set of shoes along the fireplace and hung up long socks above the fire. When he was done, he broke down in tears and sat there very upset.
Then I heard someone coming up the road towards me. It was a tall man with a red hood. He was carrying a staff that made him look more like a shepherd with sheep than a sleigh driver with reindeer. He had a bag in his hand and I realized who it was.
“Santa Claus!” I said.
“You can call me Nicholas,” he said.
“Oh yeah, like St. Nicholas,” I said.
“Saint? Oh, ho, ho, I’m certainly not worthy to be a saint now am I? Well, I appreciate you saying that. It is quite a compliment,” he said.
I realized this must be St. Nick before he was a saint. I asked him what he was doing. I asked him if he was bringing presents to boys and girls.
“Presents? Why yes, I do like to give presents. In fact, I have one for this family right here. They are in desperate need–just desperate need. I have the ability to help and when you can help someone, you shouldn’t hold back.”
“What do you have in the bag? Toys?” I asked.
“Toys? No, these girls don’t need toys. They need something else,” he said.
“It’s money!” I said.
He smiled and said, “How did you know?”
“Well, I overheard the ladies saying they couldn’t get married without any money and they all seemed very worried that they were going to have to become slaves,” I said.
St. Nicholas touched the side of his nose and said, “That is not going to happen. I believe they will sleep peacefully tonight.”
He poked his head inside the window and said to the father, “Peace be with you!”
“Peace be with you, bishop,” he said back, but he didn’t look very peaceful. He was still very upset.
“I have something for you,” said St. Nicholas and he threw his bag through the window. Gold coins went flying out of the opening at the top the bag and it was amazing. The gold landed in the shoes and socks near the fire!”
“Bishop Nicholas, I . . . I . . . could never repay you,” said the father.
“You won’t have to,” he said. “A blessing on you and your daughters.”
He raised his hand and traced a cross in the air to bless the man and his daughters. Then he smiled and continued to walk down the road.
The vision faded and I was back in our living room with the last ornament in my hand. I turned to the tree and hung it on one of the branches.
I did it. I put all the ornaments back on the tree.
The only problem was, I had no idea what to say to you about the true meaning of Christmas.
The story continues next Friday! To read the conclusion of the story, subscribe to the Formative Fiction Newsletter.