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.
Sarah was an 11 year old orphan who lived with her aunt, a bitter middle aged woman greatly annoyed with the burden of caring for her dead sister’s daughter. She never failed to remind young Sarah, if it hadn’t been for her generosity, she would be a vagrant, homeless waif. Still, with all the scolding and chilliness at home, she was a sweet and gentle child.
I had not noticed Sarah particularly until she began staying after class each day (at the risk of arousing her 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, Sarah spoke mostly of her mother. Though she was quite small when she died, she remembered a kind, gentle, loving woman, who always spent much time with her.
As Christmas drew near however, Sarah failed to stay after school each day. I looked forward to her coming, and when the days passed and she continued to scamper hurriedly from the room after class, I stopped her one afternoon and asked why she no longer helped me in the room. I told her how I had missed her, and her large gray eyes lit up eagerly as she replied, “Did you really miss me?”
I explained how she had been my best helper. “I was making you a surprise,” she whispered confidentially. “It’s for Christmas.” With that, she became embarrassed and dashed from the room. SHe didn’t stay after school any more after that.
Finally came the last school day before Christmas. Sarah crept slowly into the room late that afternoon with her hands concealing something behind her back. “I have your present,” she said timidly when I looked up. “I hope you like it.” sHe held out her hands, and there lying in her small palms was a tiny wooden box.
“Its beautiful, Sarah, Is there something in it?” I asked opening the top to look inside. ”
“Oh you can’t see what’s in it,” SHe 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 Sarah,” I asked gently, “that will make me feel so good?” “It’s love,” she whispered softly, “and mother always said it’s best when you give it away.” And she 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
Odu Oluwafemi Daniel