Tyler's eyes filled as he stared at the half-decorated Christmas tree.
His dad touched his shoulder. "What's wrong, son?"
Tyler shrugged. "I miss Mom."
His dad sighed. "Me, too."
"I don't think she cares about me," said Tyler.
"Of course she does," said his dad. "She loves you very much."
Tyler shook his head. "Then, why did she have to do something stupid and end up in prison?" He slumped down on the couch and put his head in his hands.
"Tyler, I know this is hard," said his dad. "Your mom made a big mistake. But, that doesn't mean she doesn't love you." He pulled a plastic reindeer out of a box. "Do you want to finish decorating the tree?"
Tyler wiped his eyes with the back of his sleeve. "Oh, all right." He rummaged through the box, and his eyes filled again as he pulled out an angel.
"Mom usually puts this on top of the tree," he said.
"Why don't you put it on the tree this year?" asked his dad.
Tyler tossed the delicate angel back in the box. "No! If Mom's not here, I don't want it on the tree!" He sat back on the couch and closed his eyes. He felt an ache in his chest.
"I'm afraid Mom's going to forget me," he said quietly. Just then, the doorbell rang, and his dad answered the door.
"Tyler, look!" said his dad. Tyler looked up, and his eyes grew wide.
Standing in the doorway was a man holding a huge wrapped present. "Who's that for?" Tyler asked.
"It's for you, Tyler," said the man. "It's from your mom."
Tyler took the present and searched for the gift tag. "It can't be from my mom," he said. "She's in prison!"
"It is from your mom," said the man. "She found a way to send you a special gift for Christmas. She wants you to know how much she loves you, and also how much Jesus loves you."
Tyler beamed and held his present tight. "I can't believe it," he said. He slid the present under the tree and went to the box of decorations.
"Aren't you going to open your present?" asked his dad.
Tyler grinned. "I have to do something first."
He pulled the angel out of the box. "Dad, can you help me?" His dad lifted him up and onto his shoulders.
Tyler stretched forward and put the angel on the highest branch of the tree.
"Mom didn't forget me!" he said, grinning.
"Merry Christmas, Tyler," said his dad.
"Merry Christmas, Dad," said Tyler.
While the story you just read is fiction, similar real-life stories play out across the country each Christmas, thanks to Angel Tree. Without Angel Tree, these stories would have a much different ending - a sad and often tragic ending.
When a parent goes to prison, children are often the forgotten victims, and they are frightened, angry, and confused. They need to know that they're loved and remembered and, even more importantly, they need to know that Jesus loves them.
Angel Tree's Prison Fellowship program helps strengthen the fragile bonds between parents in prison and their children by helping incarcerated parents give Christmas presents to their children, and by sharing the ultimate gift - the love of Jesus Christ.
Visit Angel Tree's website to learn how you can donate to this life-changing cause. Every child deserves to be remembered - won't you partner with Angel Tree to help provide some very special gifts this Christmas?
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