Christmas is for love. It is for joy, for giving and sharing, for
laughter, for reuniting with family and friends, for tinsel and brightly
decorated packages. But mostly, Christmas is for love. I had not
believed this until a small elf-like student with wide-eyed innocent
eyes and soft rosy cheeks gave me a wondrous gift one Christmas.
Mark was an 11 year old orphan who lived with his aunt, a bitter middle
aged woman greatly annoyed with the burden of caring for her dead
sister's son. She never failed to remind young Mark, if it hadn't been
for her generosity, he would be a vagrant, homeless waif. Still, with
all the scolding and chilliness at home, he was a sweet and gentle
I had not noticed Mark particularly until he began staying after class
each day (at the risk of arousing his aunt's anger, I later found) to
help me straighten up the room. We did this quietly and comfortably, not
speaking much, but enjoying the solitude of that hour of the day. When
we did talk, Mark spoke mostly of his mother. Though he was quite small
when she died, he remembered a kind, gentle, loving woman, who always
spent much time with him.
As Christmas drew near however, Mark failed to stay after school each
day. I looked forward to his coming, and when the days passed and he
continued to scamper hurriedly from the room after class, I stopped him
one afternoon and asked why he no longer helped me in the room. I told
him how I had missed him, and his large gray eyes lit up eagerly as he
replied, "Did you really miss me?"
I explained how he had been my best helper. "I was making you a
surprise," he whispered confidentially. "It's for Christmas." With that,
he became embarrassed and dashed from the room. He didn't stay after
school any more after that.
Finally came the last school day before Christmas. Mark crept slowly
into the room late that afternoon with his hands concealing something
behind his back. "I have your present," he said timidly when I looked
up. "I hope you like it." He held out his hands, and there lying in his
small palms was a tiny wooden box.
"Its beautiful, Mark. Is there something in it?" I asked opening the top
to look inside. "
"Oh you can't see what's in it," He replied, "and you can't touch it, or
taste it or feel it, but mother always said it makes you feel good all
the time, warm on cold nights, and safe when you're all alone."
I gazed into the empty box. "What is it Mark," I asked gently, "that
will make me feel so good?"
"It's love," he whispered softly, "and mother always said it's best when
you give it away." And he turned and quietly left the room.
So now I keep a small box crudely made of scraps of wood on the piano in
my living room and only smile as inquiring friends raise quizzical
eyebrows when I explain to them that there is love in it.
Yes, Christmas is for gaiety, mirth and song, for good and wondrous
gifts. But mostly, Christmas is for love.