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THE GREATEST GIFT
by Richard L. Provencher
3/21/2008 / Christian Living
Chris and Bradley were best friends. It was this friendship that would cause problems, and just a week before Christmas. They liked to walk around in the evening and look at decorations on the street.
A thought crossed Bradley's mind. "What if we just took a couple of light bulbs?" At first, that's all they did. At this moment it did not matter what mom or dad had taught them. What were a few bulbs anyways? They only smashed a few on the street. No one heard a thing. Then their fun got out of hand
They kept going until every single bulb was used up. Finally, a light came on across the street. Their feet said run. And they did, sneaking away like two thieves. After all, they took something that belonged to someone else.
Bedtime that night was a rough one for Chris. He never did anything like this before. He walked around his room, one large enough to satisfy any person. He carefully looked at his pennants of the MONTREAL CANADIENS and the BUFFALO BILLS.
A picture of mom and dad looked back from a corner of the dresser. He wiped off the dust. "I wish he was here right now. What would Mom say if she found out?"
On the other side of town another boy sat on his bed. He didn't feel well either.
"How could we have done it?" But Bradley didn't have anyone to blame except himself. He had a mom and dad. It was like having two good legs. Chris only had a mom at home. Bradley knew this whole thing was his fault.
The next day Bradley's parents read about light bulb vandalism in town. "It's a mean thing for anyone to do," his dad said.
Down the street the missing lights were finally noticed. The owners were saddened to see their hard work ruined. They spoke to a neighbor who had the names of the two boys. Her young daughter had seen them. The police were called, including the parents.
"I'm Sorry" soon began about the 105 destroyed bulbs. Both Chris and Bradley were indeed sad for what they had done. There was some good news though. The owners of the missing light bulbs told the Police they would not press charges. More phone calls took place. Arrangements were made and everyone was to meet the next day. Sleep came late for the boys.
The next morning they took their newspaper savings and went shopping to buy replacement bulbs. Both cars pulled into the victim's driveway, each boy feeling nervous as they looked at the front of the house. Empty light bulb sockets were everywhere. In the house they apologized for their actions.
They went back outside and followed through on the agreement. And carefully replaced all the missing bulbs. Five adults watched from the window. Chris and Bradley looked back, sadly continuing their task in the falling snow.
After completion the boys returned to the warm house. Everyone sat around in the living room. There was much talk between the adults about raising children and teaching them responsibility. The boys listened carefully. They noticed the people they had wronged did not seem very upset. At first they could not understand why. These strangers were not angry at all.
"We're impressed at how quickly you told the truth," the man said. Then the boys had hot chocolate and the adults, coffee. Everyone shared some sweets. Soon it was time to leave. The next day was Christmas.
That night Chris told his mom once again he was really sorry. "I let you down, mom. And dad would be very disappointed if he were here." Her answer was a real neat hug. This was the first time in a long time he let mom do that. Sleep was like a restful dream.
Not so very far away, Bradley also said goodnight to his mom and dad. "I have so many nice things," he said. "All kinds of toys and clothes. And maybe a lot more to come."
"We still love you too," his parents added. His sleep was also restful. Hours and minutes melted away as Christmas arrived quickly as a runaway train.
Both Chris and Bradley jumped out of bed at the same time. Even though they lived several blocks apart. Each rushed downstairs into their living room, followed by parents. What had their son learned? Both sets of parents must have asked at the same time.
And Bradley answered his own parents carefully, as if reading their minds. "I'm going to try harder, mom, dad. I really am." They looked at all the decorated boxes. Then he and his parents were eager to pick out their presents.
Just then, something special happened in both Chris and Bradley's home, at exactly the same time. Decorative angels sitting atop each tree toppled over.
They tumbled slowly from limb to limb. As each green branch was touched, shivers of light danced about. They gathered together and formed a golden outline on both trees.
Each home saw the creation of two golden plaques that fell among the presents. And in each of their living rooms, everyone stared as a tiny scroll formed, with a brief message that shone brightly. Both Chris and his mom as well as Bradley and his parents leaned forward and read:
"The greatest gift of all...is forgiveness."
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher 2004
81 Queen Street, Unit 6, Truro, Nova Scotia
Canada B2N 2B2 Phone (902) 897-2344
Word Count = 897 for the story above.
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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