Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: The Red Mittens
By Shelley Snyder
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“They are there to remind me of something I never want to forget.” Gramma smiled. “Let me tell you a story to help you understand.”
Robert shoved his hands deep into his pockets, trying as best he could to keep them warm. It was a particularly cold day, colder than he had ever experienced in all of his ten years of life; or at least that he could remember.
A gust of wind picked up and swirled snow around him as he walked home. Winter had come with a vengeance this year. He was cold, and wondered if he would be able to warm up again; he quickened his pace as his home came into view.
“Robert Mitchell Andrew MacNeil!” His mother looked in horror at her son’s bright red ears and hands as he walked into the kitchen. “What on earth is wrong with you? Didn’t you wear your hat and mittens today? It’s the middle of winter, not summer!”
Robert shrugged as he sat at the table and reached for a cookie. He had known he would get a lecture, but he had not cared. He did what he had to do. “Yeah, I know.”
“Where is your hat? Don’t tell me you lost your mittens again.” His mother stood beside the counter, a stern look on her face. She couldn’t understand what was wrong with her son, why he wouldn’t dress appropriately and why he kept losing his hats and mittens.
“I can’t tell.” Robert was not one for elaborating, and people typically had to ask him many questions in order to extract information from him. Frustrated, Mrs. MacNeil sighed and continued working on supper.
“Robert, there are plenty of kids in this world who don’t have protection from the cold. I know we don’t have much ourselves, but you should count yourself lucky that I can at least make you and your sister something so you don’t freeze.”
“I know Mom. I just had to do what I did.” Robert stared into his lap. “There…there’s this kid at school.” He paused. “His name is James, he’s new, and he didn’t have any mittens or hat. He said his family doesn’t have much money for anything.” The look on Robert’s face was heartbreaking. This was something that apparently bothered him a great deal.
“I gave him my stuff Mom. I knew you could make more for me.” A tear slid down Robert’s cheek as he looked at his mother. “I gave the other ones away to other kids too. I want to help them, but I didn’t know what else I could do.”
Mrs. MacNeil hugged her son tightly, tears falling from her own eyes. She was proud of her son, that he had thought more of these kids than of himself; she offered him a possible solution to help.
Gramma had a far away look in her eyes and a smile on her lips as she finished her story.
“I don’t get it Gramma.” Victoria simply stated. “What does that story have to do with these mittens?”
“The Bible tells us that whatever we do to the least of them, meaning other people, we do to Jesus. You see, Robert worried more about others than he did about himself. He was being unselfish, and that is the way Jesus wants us to be.”
“Is this story true?” Victoria asked.
“Oh, yes.” Gramma smiled. “You see, Robert was my older brother. Mama’s solution was to make extra mittens every year after that so that James and other children could keep warm.” She took the red mittens from Victoria and held them close to her heart. “Mama taught me how to knit when I was your age, so that I could continue this tradition, and now I make mittens every year for children.”
“Where’s Robert now?” Victoria asked. “How come I don’t know him?”
“He died that winter from pneumonia.” Gramma sighed. “These were the last pair of mittens Mama had made him. They are the ones I hang up every year as a reminder of Robert and what he did; a reminder for me to be like Jesus.”
“Will you teach me to knit hats and mittens?”
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