THE CHRISTMAS SCOUT
In spite of the fun and laughter, 13 yr. old Frank Wilson was not happy. It was true, he had received all the presents he wanted, and he enjoyed the traditional Christmas Eve reunions with relatives for the purpose of exchanging gifts and good wishes but Frank was not happy. This was his first Christmas without his brother, Steve, who during the year, had been killed by a reckless driver. Frank missed his brother and the close companionship they had together.
He said good-bye to his relatives, and explained to his parents that he was going out to see a friend. Frank put on his new plaid jacket. It was his FAVORITE gift. He placed the other presents on his new sled, then headed out, hoping to find the leader of his Boy Scout troop. Frank always felt understood by him.
Though rich in wisdom, his leader lived in the Flats, the section of town where most of the poor lived. His Scout leader did odd jobs to help support his family. To Frank's disappointment, he wasn't home.
As Frank hiked down the street toward home, he caught glimpses of trees and decorations in many of the small houses. Then, thru one front window, he glimpsed a shabby room with limp stockings hanging over an empty fireplace. A woman was seated nearby....weeping. The stockings reminded him of the way he and his brother had always hung theirs side by side.
A sudden thought struck Frank: he had not done his "good deed" for the day. Before the impulse passed, he knocked on the door. "Yes?" the sad voice of a woman asked. Seeing his sled full of gifts, and assuming he was making a collection, she said, "I have no food or gifts for you. I have nothing for my own children."
That's not why I am here," Frank replied. "Choose whatever presents you would like for your children from the sled."
"O, God bless you!" the amazed woman answered gratefully. She selected some candies, a game, a toy airplane and a puzzle. When she took the Scout flashlight, Frank almost protested.
Finally, the stockings were full. "Won't you tell me your name?" she asked, as Frank was leaving.
"Just call me the Christmas Scout," he replied.
The visit left Frank touched, and with an unexpected flicker of joy in his heart. He understood that his sorrow wasn't the only sorrow in the world. Then he stopped by another house and then another and then another. Before he left the Flats, he had given away the rest of his gifts. His plaid jacket was gone as well, to a shivering boy.
Now, Frank trudged toward home, cold and uneasy. How could he explain to his parents that he had given his presents away?
"Where are your presents, son? asked his father as Frank entered the house.
"I gave them away," he answered in a small voice.
"Frank, how could you be so impulsive?" his mother asked. "How will we explain to the relatives who spent so much time and gave so much love shopping for you?" His father was firm. "You made your choice, Frank. We cannot afford any more gifts."
With his brother gone, and his family disappointed in him, Frank suddenly felt dreadfully alone. He went to his room thinking of his brother and sobbed himself to sleep.
The next morning, he came downstairs to find his parents listening to Christmas music on the radio. Then the announcer spoke: "Merry Christmas, everyone! The nicest Christmas story we have this morning comes from the Flats. A crippled boy down there has a new sled this morning left at his house by an anonymous teenage boy. Another youngster has a fine plaid jacket, and several families report that their children were made happy last night by gifts from a teenager who simply called himself the 'Christmas Scout'. No one could identify him, but the children of the Flats claim that the Christmas Scout was a personal representative of old Santa Claus himself."
Frank felt his father's arms go around his shoulders, and he saw his mother smiling thru her tears. "Why didn't you tell us, son? We didn't understand. We are so proud of you."
It was the perfect gift, for Frank had shared the gift of love he had received with others in need. A representative of Santa, I think not. A representative of the one who gave the gift of love we all need this Christmas so that we might be able to share it with others.
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