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A Christmas for Danny

We sat, cross-legged in a circle on the 1st grade carpeted floor. Just a small group gathered for our last religion class before Christmas. Only time for a quick chorus of “Away in a Manger” and then we chatted about our favorite Christmas pastimes and memories — a cherished topic for six-year-olds. Everyone chimed in: “Presents! Seeing Grandma and Grandpa! Ice skating and sledding! Turkey and pumpkin pie!” It seemed each child was bursting with excitement over the upcoming Christmas season. Sweet faces, upturned and expectant with joy.

I could barely distinguish Danny’s hushed voice quivering, next to me.

“Dad says we won’t be having Christmas this year, ‘cause Mom is in the hospital.”

Just that very moment, the bell rang announcing the end of class. With a flurry of coats, hats and mittens, I only had time to give Danny a quick hug and whispered in his ear, “Danny, I believe you will have Christmas.” His soft brown eyes, brimming with tears were my last glimpse of him, and then, he was gone.

Collecting my own two little ones, we quickly headed toward the car; emotionally, I shared with them about Danny. The ride home was deafeningly silent, even though we passed brightly colored storefronts playing jolly Christmas carols.

Dinnertime found Dad and Mom and kids all brainstorming together with ideas of how to bring Christmas to Danny and his family. We had a plan! We could do it!

The next afternoon, we set out to find the tallest, fullest merriest Christmas tree ever! Check! Next, we went on a hunt for the biggest turkey we could find, plus all of the trimmings. Check!

We purchased presents and wrapped them up. Check! Then, we loaded up the car and last of all, tied the festive tree on top. Check! Under cover of night, we drove to Danny’s house, small and darkened. We each took armfuls of boxes and quietly piled them onto the front porch; last of all — the tree. We counted 1, 2, 3! And shouted “Merry Christmas!” Then dashed to the car and sped off, giggling wildly.

We just had to drive by again, so we did. Stealthily, we peeked with windows rolled down at the lighted porch, just as two small children were tugging at the tree. Then, it disappeared into the house.

All the way home we were smiling and chattering together, full of excitement: “Did you see Danny carrying the turkey? I wish I could be there tomorrow when they open their presents. I wonder if they will put the tree up tonight.” It was a glorious night, indeed.

Danny never returned to our 1st grade religion class. Someone said his family had moved away to live with his grandparents. Nevertheless, our family hasn’t forgotten him. With sweet memories and loving kindness, we think of him and wonder: Does Danny have a wife and family of his own to celebrate Christmas? Does he ever think about that Christmas so long ago? I wonder.