Christmas morning came as it always did, with us children anxiously waiting for the clock to strike 7 a.m. so we could rush to the tree to see what Santa had brought us. My parents usually stayed in bed during that time, listening to our comments or perhaps getting a bit more shut-eye after their own late-night Christmas preparations. They would join us a short time later.
But that Christmas morning was different.
The moment my youngest sisters, ages 2 and 4, saw the dresses we’d purchased for them, they held them in front of their bodies and twirled around the room. “Thank you, thank you!” they cried out.
I heard a few surprised mumbles from my parents’ room, but it wasn’t until my 8-year-old brother lifted his gift in both of his hands and yelled, “Wow! Thanks for the car set, Mom and Dad!” that things really changed.
“What?” My dad’s voice sounded incredulous.
“We didn’t get you that!” Mom said.
My sisters, brother and I grinned at each other. I then heard bustling from my parents’ room as they quickly dressed, and within moments, they’d joined us in the living room. Their eyes were wide and their mouths open as they stared from one to the other of the anonymous gifts.
“How did this happen?” my dad said.
And then my mother saw her coat. She walked to where it was draped across the couch and picked it up. Tears slid down her cheeks.
“Who did this?”
None of us four co-conspirators answered them. We wanted our gifts to remain a secret. But the truth was, I don’t believe any of us could have spoken just then if we’d tried.
That experience will forever be one of my favorite Christmases because that season my sisters and brother and I felt the true spirit of Christmas; we loved and served others, and we worked together in unity and peace. Even more importantly, I will cherish it because that day, whether my parents knew it or not, their love and sacrifices for us children were noticed.
Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen's novel "Betrayed" is scheduled to be published in June 2014 by Covenant Communications.
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