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The Greatest of Gifts

by Richard L. Provencher  
10/18/2010 / Christian Living

Chris and Bradley were best friends all their young lives. And one week before Christmas, their friendship of doing everything together brought them into conflict with the law.

Joking around in the evening, and looking at decorations on the street, was a usual pastime this time of yer.

Before long, a mischievous thought crossed Bradley's mind. "What if we trash a couple of light bulbs?" The thought of vandalism didn't even cross their minds. This moment their Christian teachings were a distant memory. What were a few bulbs anyways?

They began smashing several on the street. No one heard a thing. Their idea of fun soon got out of hand as they kept going until every single bulb at one home was used up. When a light came on across the street they ran away feeling like two guilty thieves. After all, they did damage something belonging to someone else.

Bedtime was a difficult one for Chris. He never did anything like this before. Walking around his large room reminded him he certainly had enough to satisfy any young person. He looked at his pennants, PITTSBURG PENGUINS and MONTREAL ALOUETTES. Chris was able to watch hockey and football in the comfort of a loving home.

A picture of mom and dad on the dresser looked back with pride. Chris remembered that moment as he wiped off the dust. "I wish dad was alive right now. What will Mom say if she finds out?"

On the other side of town another boy sat on his bed, not feeling well either. "How could we have done it?" he asked over and over. But Bradley didn't have anyone to blame except himself. Having a mom and dad was supposed to be like having two good legs. His friend Chris only had a mom at home.

Bradley knew this mess they were in was his fault, since it was his idea.

The next day Bradley's parents read about light bulb vandalism in their neighbourhood. "It's a mean thing for anyone to do," dad said.

Down the street the missing lights were easily noticed, the owners saddened to see their creative work ruined. It didn't take long before they found out from a neighbor the names of both boys, who were seen running away.

Police were soon called, then the parents. "I'm Sorry" began after the realization 105 bulbs were destroyed. Chris and Bradley were indeed sad for what they had done. Thankfully the owners of the missing bulbs told the Police they would not press charges.

Phone calls took place, arrangements made and everyone was to meet the next day. Sleep came late for the boys.

The next morning they brought personal newspaper savings and went shopping with their parents to buy replacement bulbs. Soon after, both cars pulled into the victim's driveway, where the unfortunate adventure began.

Both boys apologized to the owners for their actions. They quickly returned outside, carefully replacing all the missing bulbs, as five adults watched from the window. Chris and Bradley completed their task in falling snow. Replacing these bulbs certainly put a dent in their savings, not to mention their badly bruised egos.

After completion the boys returned to the warm house, where everyone sat around the living room. There was much talk among the adults about raising children, and being accountable for their actions.

Both boys listened carefully noticing the people they had wronged didn't seem very upset. At first they couldn't understand why these strangers were not angry at them.

"We're impressed at how quickly you told the truth," the man said, even though he and his wife had been wronged. She looked at the boys and said, "We forgive you."

Then the boys had hot chocolate and the adults, coffee. Everyone shared some sweets, but soon it was time to leave. The next day was Christmas.

That night Chris told his mom once again, "I let you down, mom. Dad would be disappointed if he were here." Her response was a neat hug. This was the first time in a long time he let mom do that. Sleep was more like a restful dream.

Bradley was also sorry for what he had done. "We still love you," both parents said, before retiring for the night. After all, it was Christmas Eve.

The next morning Chris and Bradley jumped out of bed at about the same time even thought they lived blocks apart. They rushed downstairs into their living rooms, followed by mom and one set of parents. Each looked at the decorated boxes, eager to pick out their Christmas presents.

Then, something special and unusual took place in both homes. At precisely the same time, decorative angels atop each tree toppled over. They tumbled downward from limb to limb. As each branch was touched, slivers of light danced about, then gathered together until a golden outline stood out on both trees, even though they were neighbourhoods apart.

Each home saw the creation of two golden plaques that glowed among the presents. In both living rooms, everyone stared as a tiny scroll shone brightly with a brief message. Distance was meaningless in the excitement of the moment.

Chris and mom, Bradley and his parents leaned forward and they read: "The greatest of gifts is ... Forgiveness."

(c) Richard L. Provencher 2010

Richard enjoys writing poems; many of which have been published in Print and Online. He and his wife, Esther are also co-authors of stories and a print novel. They are "born again" Christians and very busy in their church, Abundant Life Victory International, in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.

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