Mitchell's face lit up with a full moon's smile. From his window he watched red and green Christmas lights flicker like candles in the wind.
Strings of color dangled and danced along the street.
But there was sadness in Mitchell's heart. His thin shoulders sagged. And his young fists pressed together. The same as when a boxer loses a close match, with eyes staring at the floor.
It was hard to escape the frown on Mitchell's face.
"Not my fault," he said. "I can't seem to find anything nice to buy mom and dad." These unhappy words scurried like a garter snake across his room.
Maybe he didn't visit enough stores? It was like a jab in the tummy. Did he, or didn't he?
Tomorrow was Christmas day. And he had to get a present for his parents. His piggybank had three dollars and twelve cents left.
"I don't need any presents this year," he told his parents. "I have lots of things," Mitchell said.
After explaining why, dad said, "What?"
"Don't be silly," mom added.
Their words zoomed like a peanut butter sandwich through his mind.
"You don't have to get us anything," his parents insisted.
"But I have to," the boy said. "I want to get something extra special." Daddy wasn't working right now. And mom needed some cheering up.
Last Sunday School Mitchell learned Christmas was much more than fancy presents. But, what should he do?
Then an idea popped up and down, like a Jack-in-the-Box.
Bells rang in his head. DING-DANG-DONG!
"YESSS!" His feet did a hop and skip, all the way over to his piggy bank. Mitchell had to hurry. There was so little time.
He MUST shop downtown once more. And he had to find the perfect gift!
Mitchell put on boots, mitts and a warm jacket. With hat on head, he hurried out the back door, holding tightly to his cat, JC.
The boy needed some company for this trip.
On the street, shopping noises rang loudly in his ears. Crowds were shouting. "Let's go here! No, over there!" BUY, BUY and buy some more.
Store windows were decorated with every toy, game, perfume and ties. But there wasn't anything Mitchell could afford. He really didn't need a train set for Christmas.
Santa probably didn't get his letter anyway.
When tired feet needed a rest, Mitchell sat down beside a street lamp. Curled up on his lap was JC.
Mitchell watched families' head home with bags of goodies.
Then a large wagon pulled by Clydesdale horses stopped beside the curb. "Still time for shopping," said the friendly driver.
Mitchell and JC quickly joined adults and children resting on bundles of hay for seats. Now he could see much better.
People were still shopping in downtown Truro, arms filled with presents. Those same stores seemed to call him.
Boy and cat jumped off the wagon and hurried over to the first window display. Mitchell's nose pressed tightly against each pane of glass.
Oh-Oh, that wristwatch must cost a lot. But daddy would sure like it.
And those shoes would look nice on mom.
Maybe, these were not the right gifts. It was hard to see through tears. "What could he give mom and daddy?"
His eyes were sore. His legs were tired. Even his hands were cold. Good thing JC was here. Her "meows"' warmed him up like a bowl of warm soup.
Then it was time for Mitchell and JC to return home. Good thing mom and daddy were asleep on the couch. Perhaps they were dreaming he was in his bed upstairs.
Mitchell flopped on his bed, and looked at the clock on his dresser. Santa should be coming soon. He still thought about a gift for mom and daddy.
What to do?
An idea landed on his nose, like a snowflake. "Aha" and "YESSS" were sounds flitting around his room like a butterfly.
"O-BOY," he thought.
Morning came swiftly as a teenager on roller blades. Mitchell's mom and dad couldn't understand why it was so quiet.
Where was their son?
Mitchell was usually the first one up. He enjoyed racing mom and dad downstairs on Christmas day. But he wasn't in his bed.
Both parents headed downstairs. They stared at the pile of gifts under the tree. There were so many for one little boy.
But, the very best one was in the middle.
There lay Mitchell, fast asleep. A white ribbon was tied around his waist. It even had a little red bow on his tummy.
And with a crayon he had printed a message.
"For MOM and DADDY, from ME."
Hugs were like snowflakes this Christmas morning!
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher 2006
NOTE: It would be nice to see this story published by an E-book publisher one day, as a picture book. R&E
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.