The Love Gift

"Silent night; holy night, all is calm; all is bright…" the girl sang softly to the background music, while chewing on a peppermint candy cane. She was watching Grandmother wrap the Christmas gifts. The sparkling gold and red paper was very alluring to the girl's eyes, so, in awe, she reached out with a tiny hand and stroked the beautiful paper.

Grandmother laughed and ruffled the girl's long black hair, "It is quite lovely, isn't it, Colleen?" The five-year-old nodded emphatically.

"Yes, Grandmamma, but why do you use the pretty paper?" the granddaughter's emerald eyes were filled with confusion and her head was tipped to the side curiously.

Grandmother laughed, "Oh, Honey," the elderly woman picked up a spectacularly wrapped box from under the Christmas tree and handed it to her granddaughter. Colleen held the gift as though it were made of glass. "Read the tag, my child," she commanded gently.

Though only five years of age, the young girl could read well, "To: My Dear Colleen, Love: Grandmother," she read.

Grandmother set the gift back under the Christmas tree and drew her granddaughter into her lap and sat before the flickering fire. "Colleen, I use the pretty paper to cover the gifts,"

Colleen, still confused as ever, asked, "But why do you give the gifts, Grandmamma?"

Grandmother looked solemn, "Because the gifts come from my heart, my Dear, and I give them to see the joy on my kin's faces; I give them because I love you."

Colleen smiled, "Christmas love gifts, Grandmamma,"

"Yes, my dear, you have named them well," Grandmother answered softly, giving Colleen a tight squeeze and letting her down from her lap.

Their afternoon went well, but as Colleen returned home with her mother, she became slightly uneasy. With a glance towards the presents under the Christmas tree, she realized that everyone had Christmas love gifts to give, everyone except her. Colleen looked down at the beautiful gold and red paper her Grandmother had given her to keep. What present could she give to show Grandmother how much she loved her? What special gift could she wrap up with this paper?

She could draw a manger scene; that would be lovely and Grandmother would love it. Colleen got out a piece of paper and her crayons and began coloring. But, after she was finished, the girl looked at the paper and threw it down. Tears rolled down her rosy cheeks as she began to cry. Yes, the picture was good, very good, but it just wasn't…special enough! What was special enough? What could symbolize her abounding love for Grandmother?

Colleen jumped up and scrubbed the tears off her cheeks. She raced to her closet and dug an old shoebox out. She opened the lid and filled it with the most precious gift she could ever give and shut the lid tightly and began to wrap it with the beautiful paper.

That night, Christmas Eve, Colleen and her mother and father went to join the rest of their family at Grandmother's house. Colleen put the present underneath the tree, at the way back, so that it would be the last present to be opened. Colleen opened all her gifts, careful to say, "Thank you," for each one, but her focused remained solely on Grandmother.

"Well, that's all of them," Grandfather announced.

"Oh, no," Mother replied, "There seems to be one more in the back, Dad."

"Oh, so there is," Grandfather reached back and pulled out a childishly wrapped gift. He read the tag, "It's from Colleen. For you, Honey," he handed the package to Grandmother.

With a loving glance toward Colleen, Grandmother opened it. She looked slightly puzzled. Grandfather looked inside the box, "It's empty," he declared.

Colleen was on her feet with tears streaming down her face, "No it's not," she whispered, coming to sit on Grandmother's lap, "It's filled with a trillion-billion kisses, so each time you open the box, you will get a kiss and know how much I love you,"

Grandmother looked down at her granddaughter and hugged her, "It's the best gift I've ever received, Honey, thank you,"

Then, Grandmother closed the lid box, brought it to her face, and opened it. "I've just gotten a kiss!" she exclaimed. With tears at the little girl's words the family laughed.

"It's my love gift to you, Grandmamma, Merry Christmas."

FIN

Merry Christmas