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Finding Harmony in Advent: Day 10

December 10, 2013

The Gift  

(A short fictional story, perhaps stemming from the many international guests we had in our home including at Christmas.)

And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2: 7

“Mom, Zauditu has no place to go this Christmas,” Penny jabbered in her regular Friday evening call home. Penny’s mother, Diane, was almost as excited about the holidays as Penny. Having her daughter away at school had made an unexpectedly long fall.

“So what are you thinking?” Diane responded.

“Well, that Zauditu should come home with me of course.” Of course! Penny was the little girl who had brought home stray cats and birds with broken wings; it would be natural that Penny would be looking for students from other countries who had no place to go at Christmas.

“Why, sure,” Dave replied immediately. Just like him, Diane thought dourly. He won’t have the extra work.

“Doesn’t Zauditu have anyone else she can go home with?” Diane heard herself asking.

“Why, I suppose so, but I thought it would be fun to have her at our house. You always make Christmas so wonderful!” bubbled Penny.

What should she cook? Would Zauditu like their food? Diane had been so happy to finish her shopping early this year. Now she would have to go out at the last minute, and goodness, what would she buy Zauditu?

“Well, okay.” Diane knew her mild protests were useless. Penny and Dave were so like each other!

“It was so nice of you to invite me to your home,” Zauditu said in near-perfect English when the girls arrived. Zauditu handed Diane a small housewarming gift.

Diane cringed. She had hardly issued an invitation. At least she had been able to find a very nice necklace for Zauditu’s gift.

Penny wanted to show Zauditu all over town, to introduce her to life in the U.S. beyond their own university: the mall, a basketball game at her old high school, the skating rink. Diane hardly knew her daughter was home; she only knew there was a cold hard place in her heart.

The day before Christmas Eve, Penny came down for breakfast by herself. “Zauditu says she just wants to sleep in. Say’s I’m wearing her out!”

“I can’t imagine why!” Diane said curtly.

“Mom,” Penny gasped. “You’re jeal …”

“Just missing you so much,” Diane finished, hugging Penny so she wouldn’t cry.

“Oh Mom, I’m sorry! I miss you too. Really that’s what’s wrong with Zauditu today. She sees you and me and Dad and misses her home very much. She said it was a mistake for her to come, that you wish she wasn’t here.”

Diane sat down. What a silly, ungrateful mother she’d been. She was no better than all the innkeepers who had turned away Mary and Joseph. Didn’t Christmas mean finding room in your heart, to welcome others? “Why don’t we take Zauditu breakfast in bed?” Diane suggested.

“Oh Mom, what a wonderful idea,” Penny hugged her. And Diane marveled once again at all the gifts this child had brought to their lives.

Prayer: Lord, I pray for grace to be open to the gifts that strangers bring us, or the family member in need of your special touch. Amen.


From → Faith, Family Life

  1. Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

    A touching story
    Thank you for sharing these daily advent messages .
    I am enjoying them and sharing them as well

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