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“The Gift of a Child,” by Mary Ann Matthews.


“Christmas comes at different times for me every year. I never know precisely when it will arrive or what will produce its spirit, but I can always be sure that it will happen.


Last year Christmas happened while I was visiting my parents. The day was frightfully cold, with swirls of snow in the air, and I was looking out of the living room window of my folks’ home which faces St. Mary’s Church. Workmen had just finished constructing the annual Nativity scene in the churchyard when school let out for the day. Children gathered excitedly around the crèche, but they didn’t stay long: it was far too cold for lingering.


All the children hurried away – except for a tiny girl of about six. The wind lashed at her bare legs and caused her coat to fly open in the front, but she was not even aware of the weather. All her attention was riveted on the statues before her. Which one I couldn’t tell. Was it Mary? The Baby? The animals? I wondered.


And then I saw her remove her blue woolen head scarf. The wind quickly knotted her hair into a wild tangle, but she didn’t seem to notice that either. She had only one thought. Lovingly, she wrapped her scarf around the statue of Baby Jesus. After she had covered it, she patted the Baby and then kissed it on the cheek. Satisfied, she skipped on down the street, her fair frosted with tiny diamonds of ice. Christmas had come once again.”

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