It was a day on the week before Christmas, a cold cloudy day, cold enough for a jacket and that makes it seem like Christmas here in south Mississippi. Anna and her little girl, Casey, went to a grocery store to buy some food. Anna's husband, Mark, was at home watching their little boy. Anna had bought Christmas gifts for the family and their friends earlier. Now the excitement of the holiday filled the air. As they entered the store some of the first things they saw were Christmas cookies, peppermint canes, nuts and red stockings stuffed with candies. Anna and Casey walked past the special displays as she pushed the buggy down the first isle. Passing by the oatmeal, Anna noticed a poorly dressed old man who suddenly spoke to her. Then, right away, she knew by the odor of his breath he was merry with holiday spirits. She quickly avoided him by
turning unto the next isle, but when she got ready to enter the checkout lane, he was right there in front of her, saying, "You've got to give them what they want while you can". He pointed to a big stuffed rag doll hanging on a rope full of dolls. Casey had put a box of hot cocoa with marshmallows in the buggy, giving her mother a big smile. She wasn't even aware of the dolls hanging above her. Anna thought to herself, I know Casey will have plenty of gifts on Christmas morning, so, answering the man, she said, "No, thank you." But he insisted, "Please let me buy one for her". "No, thanks", Anna replied. Remembering that she needed to buy paper towels, Anna went toward them, put a package in the buggy, turning around, he was there again. By this time she was almost aggravated, then he said, "Please let me buy the doll for her. You've got to give them what they want while you can."
Anna, looking at the old man, tries to understand what kind of wisdom he was trying to teach her. Finally this persistence won, she said, "Ok", and with that, the old man gave her cash money which was above the amount to pay for the doll. "But wait here", she told him, "so I can return your change to you." She paid for her groceries first, then, with the man's cash she pays for the big rag doll. Looking past the counter for the old man, Anna sees a lady and a young boy walk in, the lady is asking the old man, "Where have you been? We've been looking for you". Upon hearing this, the thoughts raced clearly in Anna's mind, this must be his daughter and grandson. In a shocking daze, she drops the change the cashier gave her on the floor. Quickly, she scoops it up, walks over and hands it to the old man, then, pushes her groceries and child to the car and loads the groceries and doll in the trunk. As Anna and Casey get into the car and buckle up, big tears run down Anna's face, looking over at Casey she sees tears also. What has just happened? Guilt and wonder were mixed together. Why did the old man insist on giving the doll to us, she thought, as needy as he seemed to be and having a family of his own to care for? Anna and Casey went home, put away the things from the store, then settling down, they went to sleep. During the week leading up to and including Christmas Day, the family celebrated several traditions. They went to church together, sang Christmas carols, had an evening meal with friends and exchanged gifts. On a night with star filled skies, they drove around the town to see the many homes with Christmas lights shining brightly. On Christmas morning they awoke to find gifts around the Christmas tree. On the table a plate could be found with part of a chocolate chip cookie still there and a glass of milk that was partially emptied by Santa Claus the night before. Casey and her brother, Sam, enjoyed opening the gifts while dad took pictures of them. The Christmas doll sat by the tree. Casey said, "I am going to name her Kelly." Anna said, "I like that name".
The week following, Anna started to take down the Christmas tree. She said, "Casey, you can keep Kelly in your room now." She propped Kelly up on the bed by the pillows. Casey played tea party with Kelly and sometimes watched cartoons snuggled with the doll. This doll was as soft as a pillow.
In the spring Casey's grandmother bought her a big soft furry rabbit. So Anna propped the rabbit by the pillows on Casey's bed and placed the big doll in the closet on a shelf until winter came again.
When Christmas came again, the Christmas doll sat by the tree. Casey like playing with the big stuffed doll and put her on the bed. Then when spring came, Anna moved the big doll to the shelf in the closet again. One sunny spring day, the phone was ringing. It was Anna's friend Sharon. She said, "Please pray for my sister and niece, their house has burned and they lost all their belongings." Anna said, "I will pray for you". On Sunday morning Anna saw Sharon at church. She said, "I have some things we would like to send to your family." Sharon said, "All right." On Monday Sharon came to Anna's house. She had a big bag of clothes and toys for her to take. Then Anna had an idea. "Casey", she asked, "do you think we could give the Christmas doll?" Casey was glad to give it. So Sharon took the bags and the Christmas doll to her family. Sharon's niece, Joely, was happy when she saw the bags and the Christmas doll! I think that somewhere if he could have known it, the old man would have smiled. Love is like that. Love is willing to give. God has shown to us the greatest gift of love, by sending His Son Jesus for us.