A Christmas Gift

“Mrs. Hanson is watching us play catch,”
Timothy said, tossing the ball to his sister.

“She watches us play a lot,”
Ann said, catching the ball and returning it.

“I think she’s lonely. And tonight is Christmas Eve.

I hope she’s not alone on such a special night.”

“Yeah, me too,” Timothy said.
“I think Christmas is the most special holiday of the year.”

“We’d better get home,” Ann said.

“It’s going to be dark soon, and we need to eat dinner before we go to church.”

Tommy caught the ball Ann tossed him, and together they trotted off home. 

Where did these puppies come from?”
Timothy asked their mother when he burst through the kitchen door.

Ann said, following closely behind him.

“Your Uncle Mickey brought them.
One for each of you.”

Timothy tossed aside his baseball
and squatted down to pet them.
“Which one is mine?”

“Which one is mine?” Ann asked.

“You can choose,” their mother told them.

Ann and Timothy scooped up the puppies
and cuddled them. 

“They’re precious, aren’t they?”
their mother said.

“They sure are,” Ann said.

“They’ll make great companions.
You’ll have a lot of fun with them.”

“Yeah, it was really nice of Uncle Mickey to give them to us.”

Timothy looked over at his sister. “Great companions.”

Ann nodded.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

Timothy nodded. “I think so.”

He looked up at his mother.
“Mom, do you think maybe we should
give one of the puppies to Mrs. Hanson?”

“You want to give one of the puppies away?”

“Not really, but we kind of noticed that Mrs. Hanson is awful lonely.
She sits at her window or on her front porch
a whole lot all by herself.”

“And if we gave her a puppy,
she’d have a companion,” Ann said.

“And because she lives right next door,
the puppies could visit each other.”

“Why, I think that’s a wonderful idea.
And very generous of you.

Which one will you give her?”

Ann and Timothy pointed to the same puppy.

It was the smaller and quieter one
that looked like it would be a good
companion for their neighbor.

“We can put a bow on him and take him next door.”

After dinner, Ann and Timothy knocked on Mrs. Hanson’s door.

In a few moments it opened.

“Our mother sent you some of our
Christmas Eve dinner, Mrs. Hanson.”

Ann held out a plate for her.
“She hopes you enjoy it.”

Mrs. Hanson took the warm plate
and smelled the delicious food.

“Thank you! How thoughtful!
Give your mother a big hug for me.”

“We will,” Ann said.

Timothy stepped forward holding a little
reddish-brown puppy with a wide green
ribbon tied around its neck.

“Merry Christmas, Mrs. Hanson.
Our uncle brought us two puppies
but we thought maybe you would
like to have one. Would you?”

He put the squirming puppy in Mrs. Hanson’s arms.

“He’s so precious,”
Mrs. Hanson said softly.
“I’d love to have him.
And I know how to care for him since I’ve had puppies in the past.”

“Mom also said to tell you not to cook tomorrow,”

Timothy continued. “We want you to come for Christmas dinner with us.”

“We’re having turkey and all the trimmings!” Ann added.

“Oh, my goodness!”
Mrs. Hanson exclaimed.

She gave the children a tearful hug.
“Tell your mother that I said thank you.
I’d love to have Christmas dinner with you.”

Mrs. Hanson held her new puppy in her arms.

The squirming puppy stretched up tall and put wet kisses on her cheeks.

“I love you too,” she said.

“He can come to dinner too,” Timothy said.

“And we’re going to church tonight to hear
the story of the first Christmas.

We’d like you to come with us.”

Mrs. Hanson’s tears began to fall again.
“Thank you for inviting me.”
She dabbed at her eyes.
“You are all such good neighbors.”

Ann kissed the puppy on the head and said,
“ We’ll see you in a little while.”

Timothy kissed the puppy too.

“Merry Christmas, Mrs. Hanson!”

“It certainly is now!”
Mrs. Hanson was smiling through her tears. “

I think it’s the best Christmas I’ve ever had.”

Ann and Timothy were smiling all the way home.

It was definitely a Merry Christmas.

Their friend and neighbor wasn’t lonely anymore.

by Evelyn Horan