Once again, I have a serious writing celebrity here to share with us today. Tammy Lash, author of White Wolf and the Ash Princess is an amazing author in the Christian world, and has become my writing mother and mentor in so many ways.
So, over to you, Mummy Tam, and your beautiful Christmas story.
Mom asked me which Christmas has been my favorite so far. Without hesitation, I answered her.
“This one, Mom.”
My mom smiled back. Her eyes glistened by the light of the tree. She whispered in my ear. “Mine, too.”
What made this Christmas different from all the others, you ask? Was it all the presents I got? Well, kind of. I did get a lot. Just not in the way you might think. Here. Let me explain…
My favorite Christmas morning started out like every morning in our house. I awoke the usual way, at the usual time. “Too-early a.m.” School schedules are hard to break, even on Christmas vacation.
He greeted me in the morning the same way He always did ever since I was little when He came to stay with us. Mom introduced me to Him one rainy afternoon at the breakfast table and asked if I would like Him to stay. She explained how much He loved her, Dad and me and how He wanted to be with us and be a part of our lives. When Mom told me what He went through for us—I cried. He loved me that much? Enough to die for me? He came to stay that very day.
“Good Morning, Little One,” He said with bright cheer. It was a little too bright for me at that hour. I yawned and stretched and opened my eyes to his sunny smile.
“Little One? I’m sixteen. How long are you going to call me that?” I said with a sleepy giggle.
“Forever. You’ll always be my child,” He replied—and He waited there, patiently, at the end of my bed for me to get up and start my day.
You’ll always be my child. I loved that—and I loved the thought of knowing He was going to be there for me every morning—always—without fail.
I sat up and let my legs dangle over the edge of the bed and I tried to gather my thoughts. Man, it’s early. Why does He have me up so early? It’s still dark—and there’s no school today.
Today. What day is it?
He knew. He smiled again and His eyes crinkled in the corners—and then I knew. It’s Christmas!
Recollection of the day zapped me fully awake. I brushed past him and made it to my closet in two steps. Two Yeti-sized steps.
“Should I get dressed or stay in pajamas this morning?” I fingered through the tight row of clothes in my search for something appropriate to wear for Christmas present opening. There’s no way I’m was going to get caught looking “icky” for pictures this year.
My hand stopped on a sweatshirt I hadn’t seen before. A red sweatshirt with a chubby gingerbread man on it. Gingerbread men at Christmas were my favorite and I collected anything and everything gingerbread. Mom must have picked it up for me somewhere. I held it up and noticed it was more pink than red in a few spots and a tiny hole was forming near the shoulder.
Nope! Definitely, NOT Christmas picture worthy. I stuffed it back in my closet and sighed at the big “nothing” hanging in there. It was to be P.J’s for pictures and a quick brush to my hair was what I ended up deciding on. I noticed Him watching me on my way to the mirror. The excited twinkle that He had in His eyes earlier—seemed a little more, well, dim—but, I was in a hurry—and Christmas was waiting! I told myself I’d find out what was up later.
At my bedroom mirror, I looked at my reflection and moaned.
“Oh, ugh! My hair!” I tugged my brush through the tangles in my hair—the dirty dishwater color that I wish were a deep, warm brown instead like my best friends. I twist it up into a loose, messy bun with a face that I saw my Dad make once when he sucked on a lemon on a dare.
“Honestly, my hair seriously never works when I want it to.” I looked at my reflection and tilted my head in multiple angles. “I should just hack it all off. Maybe start the new year off with a new cut. A different color wouldn’t hurt, either.”
I looked past my reflection and I caught His gaze. He looked hurt. Why? I didn’t say or do anything. My stomach rolled and my attention immediately went to breakfast. Poptarts. You know, the fudge-kind with the matching frosting? That’s what I was craving. Lucky for me, today was the day that I might just get it. Yesterday, Poptarts wouldn’t have been an option. Food was something we had to skimp on lately and our pantry had been bare bones for a while. Just last night, though, someone had left six heaping bags of groceries on our front porch. Can you believe that? Six!
His eyes held an eager look as He watched me sort through the cereal boxes.
“All this food and you think there would be at least one box of Poptarts!” I was honestly disgusted. Soggy Frosted Flakes for Christmas breakfast? I don’t think so. I was too busy mourning over my missing box of Poptarts to worry about Him. I comforted myself with the thought of my Christmas stocking sitting in my spot on the couch bulging with all kinds of sugary, good things. We don’t have a fireplace—or a mantle. Couches work, though and hey—who needs Poptarts when you have a chocolate Santa to munch on? That’s the ultimate breakfast, if you ask me.
I thought by this time I had left everyone waiting long enough and that now was the time to get Christmas started. I paused just outside the living room to plan my entrance. I’m the only child. I get to do grand entrance. My parents get a kick out of it—and yeah, I guess I kinda do, too.
“Merry Christmas!” I shout. “Hi-ya!” I chose a Ninja move this year and did a pretty sweet side kick and karate chop to the air. I think I pulled something, though. I don’t usually kick at nothing.
He was sitting by the tree. Silent and unmoving. Dad was holding Mom and she looked at me with those wet eyes I have been seeing a lot of these past few months. That wasn’t quite the reaction that I was expecting.
“It is Christmas today, right?” I added a giggle. A nervous one and I suddenly wished I could take back my Ninja moves. I hadn’t noticed yet that the tree didn’t shade a single present. That is, I didn’t until my parents looked in that direction for me.
“Nothing? I didn’t get one single thing?”
I didn’t mean to say that out loud. Dad had been laid off and that was super rude for me to point out that empty abyss under our tree—but there are dollar stores though, right?
Dad was the one who spoke. Mom was doing that weird breathing thing that she does to keep herself from crying. She rarely ever cries in front of me. Dad never cries. I don’t even know if he knows how.
“Forgive her, Lord. She can’t see,” he says.
“I can’t see? I can’t see what?” I clasped my hands together on the top of my head and I dig my nails in to keep myself from crying. Mom and I are making quite the pair this morning.
“She didn’t like them. Not one of them,” He said. His voice. His face. My ears and eyes told me He was obviously disappointed. Disappointed in me. For what? What did I do?
“I didn’t like what?” I asked. The nail-thing worked. The tears stayed away. At least, for now. I ran through a list of possible disappointments. I came up with nothing. It’s early yet. I have plenty of time to accommodate that and “I didn’t like them’? I didn’t like what? I honestly had no idea what they were all talking about.
His eyes were soft—brown and chocolate smooth—like my missing Santa breakfast. My heart sank. Somehow, I could feel His pain. He pointed past me. I turned and noticed discarded ribbons that weren’t there before. Red ribbon—possibly silk—because they looked shiny and soft.
“Your Christmas presents, My Child. You opened them already.”
My body felt heavy and my legs threatened to give out as I replayed the morning back in my head. I don’t remember opening anything. Great. I’m too young to “lose it”. I listened to Him—hoping for reassurance that I wasn’t going nuts. He spoke sternly, but lovingly.
“It was I who filled your pantry last night. Every box, every can—it was my gift to you.”
Sure enough. There was a ribbon was crumpled outside the pantry door. I ran to find the next ribbon. There was one in a heap by my mirror, another outside my closet and one more draped over my bed.
“Your hair, Little One, is perfect. Do you know that I know every hair on your head? Look.” He stood beside me in front of the mirror. “I love your eyes. This beautiful shade of blue—I crafted just for you. I thought they would go perfectly with your sandy, blond hair. Don’t you think they do?” I nodded and tried to smile—though I really wanted to cry. He formed me and fashioned me just how He wanted me to be. I’m His beautiful, original, one-of-a-kind creation.
He reached down and picked up the ribbon from the floor in front of my closet door.
“Your clothes—every article—every thread—are gifts from Me. I picked them out just for you.” He reached in and pulled out the gingerbread man sweatshirt, “I know how much you like gingerbread men.”
I don’t know how Mom does her weird breathing thing to keep the tears back. I’m trying and it’s not working. How could I have been so blind? How could I have not seen His gifts before?
I picked up the last ribbon beside my bed.
“What’s this one for?” I asked. I dried my face on my pajama sleeve.
“This one you will like best of all. I gave you today—another beautiful day to enjoy. I promise for all the days I give you, I will always be here by your side. Here when you wake; here when you fall asleep. I love you, you know. I always have; always will. Forever.”
With that, I fell back on my bed. Ashamed. Embarrassed. He had given me so much and I hadn’t bothered to take the time to see. I had been so selfish and ungrateful. I was crushed further by the realization that I hadn’t Him anything. Here it was, Christmas and HIS birthday! Feeling unworthy, I gave him the only gift I had. I wrapped the ribbon that I had in my hand around my waist.
“Jesus, thank you so much for all of my gifts. I love them and most of all, I love you. Please, forgive me. I have nothing to give you, but I can give myself—if you will take me?”
“Little One.” He lifted my chin and smiled. “That—is the best gift of all.”
By Tom Fettke
Worship the Lord in beauty of holiness!
Bow down before Him, His glory proclaim.
With gold of obedience and incense of lowliness,
Kneel and adore Him—the Lord is His name!
Fear not to enter His presence in poverty,
Bearing no gifts to present as your own.
Bring truth in its beauty and love in its purity-
These are the offerings to lay at His throne.