The cold night made her feel even more tired than usual. “Don, I’m going to go to sleep. I need to get up early tomorrow to fix the turkey.”
“Okay, Honey. I'll finish reading this chapter, then I’ll be right up.” Don read a few more paragraphs, then glanced up when he heard a soft pecking sound. Probably the wind. He’d hardly had time to refocus on the story, when he heard it again, but this time it was louder. Could someone be knocking on the door? At this late hour? A glance at the clock showed 11:06.
The lights in the house were dim, so he could pretend they were already asleep. No reason to open the door so late. Still, something in him urged him to open the door.
“Who’s there?” he said without opening the door.
No one answered.
Don slowly opened the door, surprised to see a little boy with tousled brown hair standing there. He couldn’t be more than five years old, and he looked as though he hadn't had a bath for weeks. He shoved his hands into his dirty jeans and shivered beneath his thin t-shirt. His eyes pleaded for any bit of kindness Don could give.
Don glanced around, surprised to find that the child came alone. “Where are your parents?” Then Don remembered his manners. “Come. Come inside, child. You’ll catch your death of cold.”
Fear filled the boy’s eyes. “My parents have no money, and they say they can't take care of me. They told me to come here.” The boy’s voice cracked.
Don felt his mouth fall open. Could this be true? Had the boy misunderstood his parents? “What is your name?”
“J-John. I am five years old.” His eyes darted around. “Do you have any food? I am so hungry.” The little boy’s lip quivered, and Don knew the tyke was fighting back sobs.
“Why would Mommy and Daddy leave me? Am I a bad boy?” He could hold his emotions no longer. He bent forward and sobbed uncontrollably.
“Oh, no, John. You are a very good boy. I’m sure you are! Why don't you stay here tonight with us? Let me get you a sandwich.”
The little boy swiped at his eyes and tried to smile.
Don went upstairs to his wife.
“Sharon, you won't believe this!” Don sat on the edge of the bed and explained the whole situation. “Do you think we should call the police?”
“Why don't I call them now,” said Sharon, “in case someone is looking for him.”
“Let me do it,” said Don. “I’ll call from up here. Would you go down and sit with John?”
“Of course.” Sharon pulled on her robe and raced downstairs.
Don dialed the police station and asked for his friend, Captain Owen. “Hello, Captain. You won’t believe what just happened here.” John explained the mystery of their young guest. I just opened the door and there was a five year old boy with light brown hair, about four feet tall and says his name is John. He said his parents didn't have money to take care of him and was supposed to come to my house. “What should I do?” he finally asked.
“I’m glad you called, John. We just picked up a man and woman for grand theft, and they were high on drugs. We knew they had a son, but they couldn’t remember what happened to him. I’m glad he came to you. We’ll send someone to pick him up, but—well, I don’t know where we’ll put him, tonight.”
“Could he stay with us tonight and for Thanksgiving dinner, tomorrow? He seems like he really needs someone, right now.”
“Yes, I don't see why not. After all, it is Thanksgiving. We’ll get in touch with you the day after Thanksgiving. In the meantime, call if you need anything.“
Don felt a thrilling flutter in his stomach as he placed the receiver on the hook. What a great Thanksgiving this would be! He went down stairs and pulled Sharon away from John and explained his conversation with the captain.
Sharon blinked hard as her eyes filled. “Oh, Don! We’ll make this Thanksgiving extra-special for him.” She kissed Don on the cheek. “Because this little boy has already made it special for us.”
Twenty-five years later, John shared this story with his own children, as they enjoyed Thanksgiving Dinner at Grandma Sharon and Grandpa John’s table. All because of one blessed Thanksgiving.
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