Jessica opened the door a tiny crack and peered through. The old lady sat in the big chair beside the window. Her eyes were closed. Carefully the little girl edged the door a trifle wider and crept through. Holding a tiny parcel behind her back with one hand, she used the other to once more close the door.
For some minutes she stood beside the chair, studying her grandmother’s face. The lines were deeply etched, mouth and cheeks sagging in relaxation. Jessica reached a delicate hand and brushed a strand of gray hair from the eye nearest her. Granny’s hands fluttered, her mouth firmed and her eyes opened. She took a moment to focus, and then with obvious pleasure greeted her granddaughter.
“Well, good morning, Jessie-girl. This is a lovely surprise. What are you doing up so early? You are looking very pretty today.”
Jessie did a quick pirouette so that Granny could see her finery all the way round.
“I wanted to be first to wish you happy Christmas and give you my present.” She held out the brightly wrapped parcel, explaining, “I chose it just for you and I wrapped it myself.”
“Thank you, my dear.” Her grandmother pulled gently at the sticky tape until the paper fell away. In her palm she held a tiny plastic manger scene. She looked from the cheap toy to the expectant face. “Jessie, my dear, thank you. You couldn’t have given me anything nicer.” She placed the ornament on the windowsill beside her. “Will you bring me my Bible, please.”
Jessica handed the Bible to her grandmother, holding it with both hands. While her grandmother found the place, Jessica snuggled down on the rug next to Granny’s slippered feet. Alternately reading and explaining, Granny’s soft voice recounted the Christmas story.
Together the followed Mary and Joseph down to Bethlehem town. As Mary sank into the hay in the stable, Jessica snuggled closer to Granny’s legs and tucked her thumb into her mouth. They visited the shepherds on the hillside, and sat completely still and quiet to listen to the angel’s song. After some minutes, Jessie took the thumb from her mouth and looked up into her grandmother’s face. Her voice was a sigh of contentment. “Oh, Granny, that was the most beautiful song.” Her grandmother smiled. “Yes, Jessie-girl, the most beautiful song about the very best gift of all – the gift of God’s Son.”
With an effort she pulled the four-year old onto her knee, placing her Bible on the child’s lap. “And now, Jessie, I have a gift for you. It is the very best gift I could ever give you. I want you to read it every day.”
“But, Gran,” Jessie started to protest. Her hands closed around the edges of the Book, afraid it would fall.
“But nothing, Jessie. I won’t need it any more. I’m going to live with Jesus.”
“Thank you, Gran.” Jessica leaned into her grandmother’s embrace.
Jessie stirred. She was sitting in the old armchair beside the window. A tattered Bible lay on her lap. A faded ornament stood on the windowsill. She lifted the Bible and looked at it, thinking, “Thank you, Granny. It is still the very best gift I have ever received. For sixty years you have shared with me the truths about the Savior, God’s gift of His Son, His love and His forgiveness. For sixty years I have shared your gift of the beautiful angel’s song. Thank you, Gran.”
She remembered her mother coming into Granny’s room, taking the Bible from Jessie’s grasp, lifting the little girl from her grandmother’s arms. It was some time before she understood their tears, before she cried into the pages of her Book, and the words at the funeral comforted her:
“I go to prepare a place for you ….. that where I am, there you may be also.”
She smoothed her hands across the worn cover and murmured again, “Thank you, Granny.”
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