The snow is falling on a cool mid-December afternoon. Street lights have begun to shine as the sun has nearly completed its descent to the horizon. The downtown streets are bustling with several shoppers making their way from store to store. Nary a face carries a frown or disheartened expression. Everyone is happy to share a smile and a hearty ‘hello’ with each person they pass. It is nearly Christmas!
One brown-haired and freckled boy walks with his parents, who are delightedly chatting with one another. The boy, Sam Coffey, watches the crowds of people closely, showing his advanced maturity for his six short years of life. He passes many people who all greet him with friendly faces and remarks. A warm joyous feeling wells in his little heart as he takes in the kindness being spread amongst the stirring crowd.
Sam and his parents, Sadie and Phred, make their way into the city square. It’s a concrete lot surrounded by a sheet of fresh snow and a large fountain in the center. Just a few short months ago the surrounding area was green and lush and the fountain sprayed a dazzling display of water. That lustrous view, though changed with the season, lives on as the new snow has given a white sheen and the fountain is well-lit with multi-colored lights that dance to the merry Christmas music playing from speakers at its base. It is a postcard holiday scene.
A shadow from an overhanging tree pulls over the family like a sheet as they pass by a darkened corner of the square. Suddenly Sam trips over a pair of outstretch legs, barely catching himself with his hands. While he stopped the blow, his knees do begin to sting immediately. He looks up and sees his parents are still chatting as they stroll, oblivious to his falling.
As he groans quietly and begins to stand, a soft voice calls from the shadow, “I’m so sorry.”
The proud little six-year-old stands quickly and dusts the snow from his brand-new jeans. “It’s okay,” he replies. He fights the urge to cry, more from embarrassment than pain. He’s been through tougher bouts than this, he tells himself. He’s not going to let a little thing like tripping make him cry. Especially not in front of all these people.
He looks over to see a woman sitting with her young boy, both in dirty, worn clothing. Most people probably haven’t noticed the pair either. She has intentionally chosen the dark corner to sit in. They have been run off from most of the stores over the years by their owners. Most of them don’t want the downtrodden appearance of her and her son to hinder their sales during their most lucrative season.
Sam, being wise for his age but not completely understanding social standards, smiles at the pair. “I’m Sam. What’s your name?” A smile comes to their faces at the uncommon warmness. The boy sits up from huddling next to his mother, both to keep warm and out of shyness borne from circumstance, to greet the boy.
“I’m Bobby, and this is my mom.”
“What are you doing over here?” Sam asks.
The mother, Amanda, smiles gently. Without having any money to buy much for her son for Christmas, she brings him out every year from the homeless shelter where they live. On these days they get to enjoy the merriment of the season vicariously through others. It is a small gift, but it is thoroughly enjoyed by her son.
“We’re just looking at the lights and listening to the music,” she answers.
“Oh. Where are you from?”
“We live in a church!” Bobby exclaims. “Cornerstone Church. They have games and beds and everything!”
“Cool! My parents are over there,” Sam says with a gesture. “Wanna come shopping with us?”
Bobby’s mother offers another smile. The youthfully-unknowing offer warms her heart, but she can’t accept. As she opens her mouth to respond, she is cut off by Sam’s mother:
“Sam, we have told you not to talk to strangers.” She has returned with his father after noticing their missing child. Though they were lost in their conversation, it didn’t take long for them to notice Sam wasn’t with them. She grabs her son’s hand and they begin walking off.
“But they were nice. I was just…”
“No, Sam. You don’t know that lady. She could have been dangerous.” Sadie says with a gentle firmness.
The confused boy looks over his shoulder to see Bobby returning to his timid position next to his mother. She is still offering an understanding smile to Sam, but he is struggling to understand.
At that moment another family walks by and steers their course away from Bobby and Amanda without a smile or a ‘Merry Christmas’. That same family had just been so kind to Sam only a few moments ago. Why aren’t they being as nice to them as they were to me? he thinks as he wipes away a snowflake that has fallen onto his eyelash. With a look of confusion, he finally turns away.
The rest of the young boy’s night is spent pondering things that six-year-olds shouldn’t have to ponder. He thinks about that family and how they came out just like everyone else, but sat alone under that tree. He wonders why everyone was so kind to one another, but not to them. He wonders what makes him so special to receive those kind greetings.
Sadie and Phred go on through the night, blissfully unaware of the profound impact the situation had with their young and impressionable son. To them, they had just passed another homeless person, but to him it was something much more.
A bell jingles as they walk back out of a store and his parents call back a “merry Christmas” to the clerk. As they walk outside, Sam looks around and notices that everyone else’s merriment hasn’t swayed either. Just his. The cheerful music and smiling workers has seemed to carry through the shoppers and into the very air itself. Much like it had so recently done with Sam. As much as the season typically fostered a merry spirit in him the past few years, he just can’t shake the sympathetic feeling for Bobby and his mother.
The moon has taken its place in the cloudless sky and the bedtime ritual in the Coffey Household is done; dinner is eaten, teeth are brushed, jammies are on, and Sam has slipped under his comfy sheets. After saying his bedtime prayers, his mother leans in to kiss him good night and he asks her, “Mom, why did you think that lady was dangerous today?”
“Sam, dear, I don’t know that she was dangerous, but we just have to be careful. We didn’t know her.”
“Was it because she was dirty?”
The dimness of the blue glow from his superhero nightlight amplifies her concerned look. “Well… no. It was just…”
“Because I saw everyone else treating her different too,” the curious boy goes on. “I know she smelled different and her clothes had holes, but she was a really nice lady. And her son’s name was Bobby. They live in a church.”
“Do they?” she asks, more than happy to keep the conversation detoured from his original inquiry.
“Yeah. I liked them. They really weren’t dangerous, Mom. Can…” he pauses to gather his courage to ask the question he knows will undoubtedly get shot down. “Can we have them over for Christmas?”
“I know they would have fun, Mom. They live at Cornerstone Church. That’s close, isn’t it?”
“Well yes, but…”
“See we could go get them. Please, Mom. Please!”
“Sam, now listen,” she responds evenly, growing tired of the subject. “We have a long day tomorrow, and you need to get rested up so you can go to your last day of school before Christmas Break. Then it will just be one more week and Santa will be coming, and you’ll get to open presents and see all of your cousins.”
“But what if Bobby doesn’t have any presents?”
“Sam, that’s very nice of you to think about Bobby’s Christmas too, but we can’t buy presents for every little boy that doesn’t have any.”
“We don’t have to, Mom. We can just buy one for Bobby.”
Sam’s big green eyes burn a whole through his mother. A message so profound should not come from such a young child: She doesn’t have to change the world, but she can easily change that family’s world. The little boy’s hope peaks when she hesitates. Just maybe she is starting to see his side.
“Okay, that’s enough. I love you. It’s time to go to sleep.” She kisses his forehead before walking to the door. “Good night,” she says as she slips out of the room and pulls the door tight.
The defeated boy slinks down into his bed, his little mind straining to understand it all. Bobby and his mom were so nice. Why won’t his mom just have them out for Christmas? She wasn’t dangerous, she even said she was sorry when she tripped him. The lingering thoughts keep the young boy from his slumber for another couple of hours before he finally drifts off.
Just on the other side of his door, his mother leans against the wall fighting an internal battle. She couldn’t even refute her six-year-old son’s logic on this. But there would be so much involved. She would have to entertain another family, and she doesn’t know them. They could be dangerous. But they had been with her son all that time and didn’t do anything to harm him or take him away.
A stern look of finality makes its way onto her face. No. I’m not having strangers into my home on Christmas. Maybe after the New Year I’ll take them a casserole or something. She knows the likelihood of the thought is miniscule, but it sates her conscience. With a deep breath and a nod, she makes her way off to bed as well.
The week has passed and the day has finally arrived; Christmas is here! Still quietness fills the house and the only luminance shed is that of Sam’s night light and the blinking rainbow of colors coming from the lights on the Christmas tree in the living room. All are asleep, peacefully dreaming of what the day may bring. The excited young boy is sleeping the lightest. He could barely force himself to doze off the night before. The Holiday Spirit is dancing merrily in him.
As the sun peaks over the neighbor’s houses and reflects off of the freshly-fallen snow, it lends its light to Sam’s room. Like a veil being pulled away from his window, the light creeps across his floor and onto his bed. The moment it passes over his eyes they shoot open and in a short moment he leaps from his bed. Even before he has time to think of anything else the recognition of what day this is stands at the forefront of his mind.
The excited six-year-old dashes down the stairs, skipping as many as he can in his stride. He darts into his parent’s room and tugs on their covers as he shouts, “Mom, Dad, wake up! It’s Christmas! Let’s go open my presents!”
Phred sits up and attempts to rub the weariness from his eyes as Sam runs back out of their room. He yawns loudly and looks over with a tired-but-sincere smile as his wife rolls over and looks at him.
“Well, here we go.” He says as he stands up and scratches his back. Heavy blinks help invigorate him as he walks around the bed, his feet dragging. “Want me to put on a pot of coffee?”
“Yes, please,” Sadie responds before issuing a yawn herself.
They walk out of their room to see Sam eagerly inspecting his gifts. He takes in the weight and sound as he shakes them hoping to discover some clue as to what they are. Sadie heads into the living room and takes a seat next to the arm of the couch as Phred goes into the kitchen.
Sadie smiles as she looks at her ecstatic youngster and takes in his joy. With the passing of time that long conversation with her son has moved to the back of her mind behind the noisy Jingle Bells and that recipe for her mother’s famous fudge. She’s had a lot to prepare for this Christmas; her family is expecting her best effort for all of the holiday goodies this year. Or so she thinks.
“Now hold on, Sam,” Phred says over the counter as he pours steaming coffee into two cups. “Do you want to start with those presents or see what Santa got you first?”
The young boy’s eyes light up as he looks at his mother. She gives him a wide-eyed smile to affirm his excitement.
“From Santa! I wanna open the one from Santa first!”
“Okay. Wait right here, and I’ll bring it in.” Phred hands Sadie her coffee and sets his on the end table next to the couch before making his way into the garage.
Sam nearly shakes with anticipation as he waits by the tree. “Why didn’t Santa put it under the tree, Mom?”
“Well, since we don’t have a chimney, we leave the garage door open for him. He must have just left your present there. Or…” she lets her statement linger for a moment to heighten his eagerness. “Maybe it was too big to go under the tree.”
“You’ll have to wait and see.”
The little boy can hardly contain himself. It’s taking all of his effort to not jet out the door after his father. Before long Phred steps back in the house holding a large blanket with something squirming beneath it. Sadie watches happily as Sam’s expression shifts to curious excitement.
The door squeaks as Phred pulls it to before setting the bundle on the floor. A quick smile is shared between the parents before Sadie pulls out her phone to video it all. As Sam pulls back the edge of the blanket, he is met with a wet tongue on his cheek.
“It’s a puppy!” he shouts. It begins to pant and wag its tail as the boy wraps his arms around its neck. His little hands sink beneath the dog’s shaggy, blonde hair as he pulls it in tight. As Phred makes his way to the couch, Sadie moves some mail to open a spot next to her for him to sit. A postcard in the midst of the parcel catches her eye as she is moving it. She glances at it for a moment as she bounces lightly when her husband plops next to her.
“What’s that?” Phred asks.
“Oh, just a postcard from the church up the road. It’s from when they had their Christmas play last week.”
They scoot into each other as they watch their son play with the new addition to their family, giving him a few moments to enjoy the puppy before moving on with opening presents. The boy and the dog seem to immediately share an intimate bond. They roll around in the floor, the puppy frantically licking its new best friend and Sam laughing hysterically.
When Sam finally sits up from playing with the pooch, Sadie asks, “so what are you going to name him?”
Sam looks at his new dog for a moment before stating, with finality, “Bowser.”
His parents share a confused look before Phred says, “Bowser it is then.” He gets up from the couch, squats down, and rubs the dog’s head before looking over to his son. “You ready to open the rest of those presents?”
Sam nods emphatically. “Yeah! Yeah!”
“Alright then. Sit tight for a minute and I’ll pull ‘em out,” his dad says with a wink. He quickly digs all of the gifts from under the tree while Bowser waits next to his giddy friend. Sadie watches happily as she finishes off her coffee.
The rest of Sam’s Christmas morning plays out perfectly. His excitement grows as each present he opens is more perfect than the last. Though Bowser came first and kind of stole the show. He gets a shirt with his favorite superhero, a remote-controlled car, and finally that game he has wanted all year! Or at least since he saw the commercial for it six weeks ago.
When he comes to his final two presents, he stops. A couple of people come to his little mind as he looks at the red and green wrapping paper. He turns and looks back at his parents who have become lost in a conversation planning the rest of their day; who they’ll visit, who’s going to grab the presents, when they’re going to leave. He looks back to the gifts for a moment. Multi-colored lights twinkle in his eye as a smile grows across his face. He quickly shoves the presents behind the loveseat in a darkened spot where they are sure to go unnoticed.
“That’s it, Mom. I’ve opened them all.”
“Okay. Let me and your daddy get everything picked up so we can get ready to go to your Grandma’s. You can take your new toys to your room and play with them for a little bit.”
Sam’s little heart flutters as he gathers all of his toys. He’s almost more excited for his formulating plan than he is to play with Bowser. Almost. Bowser, he thinks. When he turns and looks back at the puppy sitting in the floor it catches Phred’s eye.
“Go ahead. I need to take Bowser out to go potty before we go.”
With a hesitant nod and smile, Sam heads on up to his room. He doesn’t want to leave Bowser downstairs, but he understands that his dad will need to take him out before they leave. Plus he needs his parents to believe he is in his room.
Shortly after stepping inside his door, Sam hears his mother’s phone ring and his dad fighting Bowser to get a leash on him. The boy rushes back down the stairs as quietly as he can, the rustle of the garland on the handrail the only sound he makes. He grabs the two presents he had hid and ducks down beside the couch out of sight. A quick glance into the kitchen tells him that his mother has gone into her room to carry out her phone conversation and that his father has stepped out of the front door. To Sam’s fortune, his father has left it slightly ajar. A habit Sadie desperately wishes he would break.
The young boy darts over to the door and silently slips out. He watches as Phred turns around the corner following the energetic pup as he finds the perfect spot to relieve himself. Perfect timing again. Sam quickly makes his way down the street, a wide smile on his lips.
The walk is a long one, and, being a six-year-old boy, Sam is only partly sure he is going the right way. He’s never had to guide himself on a noble quest before. And he is sure that his quest is noble. Thoughts of how happy everyone will be when he finally arrives at the end of his journey dance around in his mind. He is blissfully unaware in his youthful ignorance of the negative significance of his actions. A young boy like Sam has little need for anything but the positive effects anyway.
When he comes to beginning of another row of houses, he sighs under the weight of the boxes as his arms begin to strain. He doesn’t remember them being this heavy before. As the excitement of beginning his grand quest has begun to wear off, the bitter cold has also started to become more noticeable to him. A biting wind picks up and pulls at his flannel pajamas that offer little protection to begin with from the cold out in the elements.
With a tinge of fear showing in his narrowed eyes he looks through tears formed from the blustering of the cold wind back to where he came from. Should he give up now? The fact that he isn’t completely sure where he is going has become a more notable thought to his little mind. No, he decides. I have to get these presents there. A look of determination sets on his gaze as he hoists the presents up with renewed vigor and trudges on past another block.
To his relief, the lucky boy comes to the building he has been looking for when he rounds the next corner. A twinkle dances in his eye as the sun peaks out from behind the clouds for the first time since he has left home. He smiles with his mouth agape and nearly laughs aloud as he looks around expecting to see someone congratulating him for completing his journey. No one answering that hope doesn’t hurt his happiness as he runs up the stairs and into the large, wooden doors, an obvious spring to his step.
“Sam. Come on, Honey,” Sadie calls absently up the stairs as she finishes putting in her earrings; the finish touch to her beautiful Christmas outfit. “We’re going to be late to Mama’s house.” The light in the room gleams off of her silky, brown hair as she pulls it back to inspect the trinket. She calls to her husband when she notices she doesn’t hear Sam coming. “Phred, can you go get your son, please? I’ll go grab our coats.”
“Let me put the dog up,” he calls back before setting the new puppy in the utility room and pulling the door to. “Sam, come on, buddy.” The old stair in the middle of the case creaks as he makes his way up them.
When he opens the sticker-covered door to Sam’s room, his call becomes more inquisitive: “Sam?” He checks in all of the usual spots, under the bed, inside the closet, in his large toy chest, but Sam is nowhere to be found.
“Honey, Sam’s not in his room. Is he down there?” he asks, trying to mask the fear in his voice.
“What? Sam!” his mother’s call is becoming more frantic. The next minutes fly by as the two panicking parents check every nook and cranny of their house calling desperately for their missing son. When the whole house has been checked, they put in calls to their neighbors asking if they have seen him. Their hysteria deepens when they come up with no leads.
“Where would he go?” Sadie asks in tears.
“I don’t know, but he isn’t in the house, and we aren’t going to find him waiting around here. Where’re the keys?”
“They’re over here on the end table.” The keys jingle wildly as she yanks them from their perch. Shortly after turning around, she stops when she realizes she noticed something. She wipes the tears from her eyes to clear her vision as she looks back at the table. Her eyes widen as a memory plays back before her.
“Phred! I know where he is!”
The husband holds the door open for his wife and follows her out of the house, without another word spoken from either of them. The brief crank of the car’s starter rings out in the silent house and in moments they have sped away.
The object that reminded Sadie of a conversation a few weeks back sits on the end table. Next to the arm of the couch. Staring at a partially-ajar door.
A thud echoes in the empty foyer to a church as Sam lets the door close behind him. He shivers as toasty warmness finally begins to melt the frost from his bones when the final gust of cold air from the closing of the door dissipates. Soft, ambient Christmas instrumentals play from an overhead speaker as he looks around for any sign as to where to go. The sign over the welcome desk looks down over him as he begins walking into the building. It reads, ‘Cornerstone Church’.
“Why hello there,” a voice calls from the hall and startles him. “Are you looking for someone?” A heavy-set black lady with kind eyes and a gentle smile bends down next to him.
“I’m looking for Bobby and his mom.”
“Are you now? And where are your parents?”
“I came all by myself,” Sam says, his chest puffed out with pride as he states his accomplishment.
The lady purses her lips to hide her sheer concern as she knows it is important to keep the boy from becoming scared or intimidated. A scared boy won’t give her the information necessary to find his parents so she can notify them. “Well! Aren’t you just a brave soul. My name is Mary. What’s yours?”
“Sam. I like that name. What’s your last name, Sam?”
“Well, Sam Coffey, what are your parents’ names?”
“Mom and Dad.”
Mary holds her hand over her mouth as she chuckles. “Oh dear. Do you know their real names? What do your Grandma and Grandpa call them?”
“Well I call my Grandma and Grandpa Mama and Pepa. They call my mom Sadie and my dad Phred.”
“Sadie and Phred Coffey,” Mary says to cement her mental note. “Well, Sam Coffey. I happen to know just where Bobby and his mother are. Do you want to go see them?”
“Okay then. Follow me. And are these for them?” she asks as she puts her hands on the presents Sam is still vigilantly holding.
“Well why don’t you let me help you carry ‘em down here and I’ll let you give ‘em to your friends when we get there.”
“They aren’t my friends. Well, just Bobby, not his mom.”
Mary laughs again at Sam’s youthful honesty as they walk around the corner into a hallway. The squeak of Sam’s shoes, wet from snow, carries through the building as they make their way across the linoleum floor. He looks around at all of the paintings and holiday decorations while they travel through a few corridors before coming into a hallway with a several doorways lining both sides. Mary walks him to the last door on the right and stops just outside of it.
“Okay, this is their room. Here are your presents. You go in there and say hi while I call your parents to let them know you are here.” The kind lady smiles genuinely as she hands the boxes back to Sam before returning to the direction they came from.
Sam looks into the small, barely-furnished room to see Bobby in the floor, rolling a blue toy car with a good portion of the paint worn from its sides. His mother is sitting behind him on a cot reading an old hardback book with the title worn off. When Bobby looks up to see Sam standing in the doorway, he jumps to his feet and shouts, “Sam! Did you know it’s Christmas?”
“I know. That’s why I brought you presents!”
“Whoa!” Bobby looks at his mom with a huge grin. “Two toys? Mom I got two toys this year!”
His mother, not quite knowing what to make of it all, nods with a wide-eyed smile. “Well… that’s…” She turns to Sam. “Where are your parents, Sam?”
“They’re at home.”
“Do they know you are here?”
“No. I came all by myself!” This time some of the wind is let out of his sails when he gets a different response.
“We need to let them know where you are right away.”
“Don’t you worry about that,” Mary calls from down the hall. “I’m on the phone with his mother right now. She’s on her way.”
Sam looks back to Amanda with a with a hesitant and confused look. He had expected a much warmer welcome. Was his mother right? When the woman sees a scared tear forming in Sam’s eye, her features soften and she smiles.
“Thank you for bringing Bobby two presents. That was very kind of you.”
A smile slowly returns to Sam’s face. “They aren’t both for Bobby. I brought you one too.”
“Oh, well, thank you.”
The six-year-old offers out the presents and her smile deepens. He is knocked a little off balance as Bobby quickly snatches the top present from him.
“Is this one mine?”
“Yeah,” Sam answers. It wasn’t. That was the one he was going to give Amanda, but he doesn’t want to embarrass his friend.
The ecstatic youngster rips into the gift before another moment passes. “A Leonardo!” he shouts. “He’s my favorite! Thank you, Sam!” After a quick hug, and ripping open the packaging, Bobby is running down the hall making fighting sounds with his new Ninja Turtle.
Sam smiles as he extends his arms to Bobby’s mother with his present between them. After giving a nod she accepts the gift and says, “thank you.” She meticulously separates the tape from the present, as she has learned to do to preserve the wrapping paper. Sam watches with excitement as the paper is folded away piece by piece to reveal what is underneath.
When the gift is uncovered, she sits back and puts her hand over her curled lips as she fights back tears. It’s a useless gift for a 37-year-old woman – a superhero action figure. But she realizes that there is much more worth in this gift than anything else a little boy could have given her. It wasn’t something thoughtful that he had gone to the store and purchased with her in mind, but it was something so much more:
It was Sam’s own unopened gift that he brought to her.
She looks back to the young boy with tear-filled eyes and lightly shakes her head as she marvels at the thoughtfulness. It’s something so many others many times his age don’t even exhibit. “Thank you.” The words come out as a whisper. “Thank you so much, Sam.”
“Do you like it?” he asks with a hopeful look in his eyes.
“I love it.”
The magical moment is interrupted by Mary’s voice as she comes down the hall: “Yes. Sam’s just down here, Mrs. and Mr. Coffey.”
They hear the clopping of frantic footsteps before Sadie and Phred come rushing into the room. With utter relief on their faces, the two parents bend down and embrace their son.
“Sam! Oh my gosh,” his mother exclaims after pulling back and looking into her son’s eyes. “I thought we lost you. Why did you run off?” As she looks over his shoulders and her eyes meet the woman sitting alone in the small, unadorned room, she understands. She doesn’t need to hear Sam’s response to know the answer; the toy on her lap tells her all she needs to know.
“I was just bringing her…” his answers stops short when his teary-eyed mother embraces him again. Not much else could have kindled her pride so fully in her son at this moment when she knows she should be angry.
Phred sits back with a look of confusion for a few moments when he notices the look on his wife’s face. He thought they were here to find, hug, then scold their son. But when the superhero action figure catches his attention as well, he starts piecing it all together.
After Sam and his mother separate, Amanda offers the toy back to his parents. “Here. I’m sorry, I didn’t know he would come. I was just…”
Phred looks at his wife with a smile then puts out his hand to refuse the offer. “Sam wanted you to have it.”
She smiles and brings it back onto her lap. Sadie wipes a tear from her eye with a smile on her face. “She doesn’t want a toy, Phred. Here, we’ll get you something you can use.”
After looking at the toy again and back into Sam’s innocent eyes, Amanda smiles as she turns her gaze to Sadie. “This one is perfect.”
Sam and his parents share a smile. They understand what makes this gift perfect for her.
Christmas spirit invades the room, and they all feel their souls warm. Five strangers, having not known each other for more than a month, are sharing what they can mutually call the best Christmas of their lives. Not being able to find words, nor feeling the need to, they sit for a moment in peaceful quiet.
The beep of Phred’s watch breaks the momentary silence. “Mom’s house,” Sadie exclaims with wide eyes. “They’re sure to be waiting on us and worried sick about Sam.”
“You’re right. We need to go.” Phred stretches his hand out to Amanda. “It was nice to meet you. Have a merry Christmas.”
“Wait,” Sadie says as she puts her hand over her husband’s and Bobby’s mother’s where they meet. With sincerity in her eyes, she looks at her and says, “come with us.”
“I… I couldn’t do that.”
“Sure you can. We’ll have plenty of food, and Sam loves Bobby. Come with us.”
Sam is beside himself. Nearly shaking with elation, he looks at Amanda expectantly as he waits to here her answer. She’s wants to be persistent in resisting; with a son herself to worry about, she has to think of their safety. The gift tells her that Sam’s intentions are pure, but she doesn’t know his parents. A glance at Same and that gleaming look in the little boy’s eyes melts her walls. She looks back at Sadie with an accepting smile.
As Bobby runs in the room, his loud playing slows to a halt when he notices that everyone is silent. He looks at his mother and asks, “what’s wrong, Mom?”
She wipes a tear from her eye. “Nothing, Honey. How would you like to go with Sam to his grandparent’s house for Christmas?”
Her son’s eyes go wide as he shouts, “yes!” Nearly tackling Sam in a hug, he yells, “we’re going with you!”
“I know! It’s awesome, huh, Bobby? We’re going to have fun, and you’ll love my Mama and Pepa, and there’ll be toys and ham and…”
The excited six-year-old boy goes on discussing all the fun he is going to have with his new friend as the group heads back to the Coffey’s car. This Christmas has already been filled with joy and fear, laughter and tears. And much of the day still remains.
Leaping with joy, the boys lead the way from the door to the car where two families join as one. Contrasting clothes tells of their separation in the status of the world, but the warmth in their souls tells of the nearness of hearts.
Sadie looks in the rear view mirror at the merry boys chatting about their favorite things. Superheroes, toys, video games, and many other important subjects are being discussed. She shares a smile with Amanda then looks back to her son. Who would have guessed that one of the deepest lessons in empathy she would ever learn would come from such a young boy.
She didn’t change the world, but she changed one family’s world.
God bless you all. Thank you for reading, and may your holidays be filled with joy and peace!