A Place to Belong – A Christmas Story
Written by Melissa Morony, Melbourne, Australia
It was the first of December and in the toy shop all of the toys were getting excited about being sold and having places to call home. In the teddy bear area the teddy bears would often talk after everyone had gone home.
“I want to belong to a kid who has lots of toys,” said a snowy white bear. “Then I’ll be put on a shelf and will get to live an easy life.”
“You might want to hope that you get to sit on a shelf,” said another snowy white bear with blue satin on its paws, “I’ve heard that those kids can get tired of you very quickly and will sometimes leave you in a toy box. You’re sometimes left upside down. That wouldn’t be much fun.”
In a corner of the teddy bear section was a brown bear. He was a smaller size than the other bears and because he had a crimped ear his price tag had been marked down. But even for a lower price people did not want to buy him.
“It’s for a gift!” they would say, when they saw him, “I can’t give him – he’s damaged.”
In fact, the small brown bear had been in the shop for over a year. This was his second Christmas here. He wondered if he would ever have a home.
One day a small girl was in the shop. She was looking at the teddies. She picked up the white bear and looked at the tag, “Hmm, too expensive. I only have a little bit of pocket money.”
She picked up the white bear with the blue satin paws, “Still too expensive. Oh, here’s one that might be OK.”
The girl picked up the brown bear and looked at his tag.
“Oh dear, I know he’s damaged. But it’s all I can afford. Besides, I think he looks cute with his crimped ear,” said the girl.
The girl walked to the counter and paid for her bear. She asked the sales lady if they had any free wrapping paper and the lady said that they did – some red and white striped paper. The sales lady wrapped the bear and put the parcel into one of the shops brightly colored purple and yellow bags and gave him to the little girl.
The little girl took the bear… not to her home… but to her church, and placed him under the tree to be given to a child who might not receive a Christmas present at all.
A few days later the brown bear was given to another little girl. Her name was Hannah. Hannah unwrapped her present and pulled the bear into a hug. She said, “I’m going to name you Mack.”
At the place where she lived Hannah told Mack, “This is my foster home. I don’t live with my family. I do not know who my father is, or if he’s even alive. My mother is in prison. I think she will be out next year.”
Mack didn’t like to show Hannah that he was disappointed, but he was. He had wanted a place to call home. But it didn’t sound like he would be staying here for very long. He would be moving again soon.
On Christmas day Hannah and the other kids in the foster home were wanting something to play.
“I know, lets play Nativities,” suggested Hannah.
The other kids agreed. Someone decided to be the angel Gabriel, someone else was happy to be one of the wise men and Joseph and the shepherds parts were soon filled.
“Can I be Mary?” asked Hannah and the other kids agreed. “But what about Mack, what will he do?”
“I don’t know. It’s not like he can act,” said Hannah’s foster brother James, who was playing the part of Joseph.
“He could be the baby Jesus,” suggested Hannah and the other children agreed.
Mack listened to the children tell the story of Christmas. The story of a baby born to a Mary who had only just been married, a baby who was laid in a manger most likely in an animal shelter because there was no room for him to be born in a house or an inn. Carefully Hannah wrapped Mack in a towel and laid him in a box that they were using as their manger. Mack listened as the kids told the story of the shepherds coming to visit Jesus and of the wise men also coming to visit with their expensive gifts.
After the children had been called to eat Christmas dinner Hannah picked Mack up and said, “I love you Mack. But I think I know how Jesus might have felt when He was on earth. His mother Mary was married just before she had Him. My Mum has never married and sometimes I wonder if she wanted me. The kids at school sometimes call me nasty names because Mum wasn’t married when I was born. But I know that I am special, that God has a reason for making me, because he sent Jesus to tell me that. I know I have a place in God’s heart.”
Hannah laid Mack back down in the box and hurried along to Christmas dinner. Mack thought about Hannah’s words. Maybe he was not home yet, but he had a place – a place in someone’s heart.