Christine cupped her hand up against the store front window as her eyes scanned the display that she had looked at so many times before. Her breath made a circle of steam on the cold glass as she stepped in closer. Her heart sank as she saw the empty spot where it has once been. She kept searching, hoping that it had just been moved to another place in the shop.
“Where is it? I don’t see it. Oh, please don’t let it be gone.”
She stepped away from the window in disbelief and decided to go in and take a look around the shop. “It has to be in there.” She tried not to cry. “It has to be in there.”
She opened the heavy glass paned wood door, using all the strength her little body could muster. The ring of the little bell above the door startled her. Her eyes were drawn to the massive shelves that reached to the ceiling. They were stuffed with box upon box of merchandise. To her right was a long glass display cabinet filled with trinkets and fine jewelry. The room smelled musty and sweet at the same time.
“May I help you young lady?” The shopkeeper was looking down at her from behind the case.
Christine came toward him slowly, afraid to speak. “Yes sir.” Her voice was weak out of shyness.
“Well, speak up. What do you need? Are you here to pick up something for your mother?”
“No sir. I, um, I was wondering what happened to the silver jewelry box that has been in your window for a long time. It’s the one with a red jewel on the top.” Her hopes were high that he would tell her he had placed it somewhere else in the store.
“Oh yes. I know the one you mean. I sold it just this morning.”
Christine’s hopes changed to despair at his words. Why didn’t she go to the shop yesterday as she had planned? Now she had lost her chance and the box was gone forever.
She thanked the man and quietly left the store. Tears welled up in her eyes and she stood outside the door for a few moments. “Oh mama, I wanted so much to buy you the box.” She again spoke aloud as the tears came down her cold rosy cheeks. She had seen Mama looking at the box in the window and knew how she admired it. Christine had decided to give her the box for Christmas. It was all she could think about as the holiday drew closer, anxious to do Mama some good.
Now she had nothing to give Mama for Christmas. She had waited until the last minute so she would have enough to purchase her gift. After finishing up a small job for Mrs. Miller after school, she had rushed to the shop with cash in hand. But it was too late and now it was Christmas Eve.
Christine stopped by the candy shop next door and bought a box of chocolates. She asked the lady behind the counter to tie it with a pretty red bow. She walked home slowly, feeling the disappointment growing inside. “Mama deserves better than just a box of candy. Things have been so bad since Papa died.” They had both been brave, but now that it was Christmas, they felt the sting of grief and poverty. Tears came again as Christine gave in to the emotions of the season without her Papa.
Snow started to fall as she made her way up the stoop to the flat. She stopped and saw a soft glow through the frosted window. Mama was home. Christine went through the door and hung her snow covered cloak on a hook in the hall. She heard Mama call to her from the kitchen. As she stepped into the parlor she saw Mama standing there with a sparkle in her eye. Then the little girl’s eyes moved to a small Christmas tree sitting on the table by the window. She walked slowly toward it in amazement. Where had it come from? Just as she turned to announce her surprise to Mama, out of the corner of her eye, she saw under the tree a little silver jewelry box with a red jewel on the top. The card beside it read “To my sweet girl. Love, Mama."
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