Our Sunday school Christmas project for children ages six and seven years old was to draw a picture of what Christmas meant to each of them. They were to bring the picture to school the following week so that we could display them on the board.
Several pictures portrayed a jolly old Saint Nick holding a large bag overflowing with Barbie dolls, super heroes and action figures. In the background of these pictures were Christmas trees with coloured lights and tables laden with food. Occasionally a picture showed a likeness of an angel, a manger in front of a church or Christmas carollers wearing red scarves.
The children were very creative and I was surprised at their ability to create recognizable images at such a young age. I suspected that the children had some parental help.
One picture depicted a cemetery scene … a grave with a small headstone covered in snow. Glued to the picture of the gravestone was a small angel made of white tissue. Grey clouds hovered above the scene.
It was a disturbingly sad picture and I was baffled. The drawing was much too intricate to have been drawn by a six year old.
During snack time I asked Benji to sit at the table with me while the other children were having their cookies and juice.
“Benji did you draw this picture or did your mommy or daddy help you?” I asked. “It’s okay if someone helped you and it’s very good. I would like you to help me understand it.”
“Well,” said Benji, “I asked my dad to help me. His name is Roger and my mom’s name is Penny. You met her. Penny has only been my mom for the past two years. My real mom is in heaven. She died on Christmas Eve when I was four. She promised me that when she wasn’t here on earth any more she would still be with me because she would be my guardian angel. So every year at Christmas my daddy takes me to visit her and I give her a present. I put an angel made of tissue next to her to remind her to stay with me. When I go to sleep on Christmas night she comes to visit, sings my favourite lullaby then gives me a hug. I really love Penny, but I miss my mommy.”
Tears welled up in my eyes. “That’s a beautiful story Benji and I love the present you bring to your mother every Christmas. I know it’s important to you to bring your mom a present.”
“No,” said Benji, “The best part of Christmas is the present she brings to me.”
Remembering the vivid imaginations a six year old can have I said, “Of course she gives you special hugs and dreams at Christmas.”
“Sure that’s special too,” he said, “but when daddy and I go to the cemetery she leaves me a present every year. I’ll show you.”
He then took a small beige pouch out of his pocket and emptied it on the table. Six tiny white feathers lay before me.
“Santa leaves me lots of presents on Christmas morning, but the present from my Mommy in heaven is the most special. She leaves me two white feathers from her wings. The feathers lie on the stone every Christmas, just waiting for me and that’s the best present of all.”
Myrna Beth (Micki) Lambert, award-winning author, is the mother of three grown daughters and nine grandchildren. She had been married to her husband, Stan, for 48 years. Micki writes poetry and short stories and has had several poems and stories published. Her writing has received many awards including the Tom Howard Short Story Contest and Voice Net Poetry Contest. She has had several Christmas stories published in Bread ‘n Molasses. Her inspiration is her family.