I had been thinking back to when my wife and I spent Christmas together. It was a magical time for us. We all went out and selected our own trees. Once we had found the right one, it was chopped down and then brought indoors. For a few days, it sat in a pot so that all the branches and twigs relaxed. It was kept in a cool place so that the needles wouldn’t drop.
My wife was the one that decorated the tree. It was a tradition in their family that the women in the family selected what would be on it. I would stand at the door watching here carefully unwrapping the decorations, cleaning them and then placing them carefully on the bottom and then working her way up to the top.
On Christmas Eve, all the family would stay together in the grandmother’s house. In the morning they would all have breakfast, go to church and then when they returned they opened their presents. One year Francine’s grandmother told this beautiful story to everyone.
When all the children were asleep, I crept downstairs it was dark outside, but the light shone through the window and lit up the room
I hadn’t wanted many gifts over the years, but today was special. I had seen in a glass box a bauble. It was small and had tiny flowers and bits of glitter all over. The bauble was encased in silk and had a blue ribbon on it.
I had asked for this for Christmas, it was the only thing I wanted. I so wanted it because it reminded me of my Christmas pasts. The days when we were all together, that was until illness struck and many of them did not survive.
As I bent down, I saw a small present with my name on it. I couldn’t wait until morning and so I opened it. Inside was the bauble and a message to me.
“Dear Granny pops always said that you loved sparkly and twinkly things.” “He said every year you had a special bauble for each member of the family so that they are always with us.”
This year pops has passed away and to honour him and his memory I have bought you this.
As she told the story we all felt that pops had been with her the day she saw the bauble in the window. Somehow he had reminded the grandchildren how granny would buy a bauble for each loved one that had passed.
This year I decided to do the same and sought out a little shop that I had found near to where I live. It was a family run shop. Father, Mother and two sons and resided in a place called Churchgate.
I had never seen a shop like this before and everything was handmade by the family. They sold candlesticks, vases and even watch stands.
The candlesticks would be a lovely present for Francine’s parents. They could use it when dining.
In a corner, I found an ornament that could be hung on the Christmas tree. It was very small but on the front, it had been painted. It was just what I was looking for and would give it to Francine’s grandmother.
The final person to buy for was Christophe, none of the things in this shop were suitable for him, except for a toy I saw on the counter. I asked about it but the owner said it was not for sale. He could see the disappointment on my face. After talking to him and telling him about losing my wife and it would be a gift for my son he gave the toy to me.
“This is a teddy bear and he is called Ralph.” “He sits in my shop and keeps an eye on things for me.” “He’s my best friend and when I am alone I often chat to him.” “He never responds but I know he is listening.” “Maybe Ralph could help your little boy and whenever he needs a friend or someone to talk to he will have Ralph.”
It was so kind of him to give me his special bear. I promised that when I got home I would paint a picture of Christophe and Ralph together and send it to him to put on his counter in the shop.
I now had all the gifts I needed and hoped and prayed I would be back in time for Christmas to give them to all the family.