Aaron shivered, huddling close to the tiny tree in the corner of the living room. The noble’s lights didn’t actually make the space warm, but the festive glow reflecting off the ornaments and shiny bows made everything seem just a little warmer.
“Did Santa come this year?” a sleepy voice asked from behind him.
Aaron smiled and turned to see his little brother, Joey, standing in his fire truck pajamas. “He sure did. He brought eight presents. Four for me and four for you.”
“Really!?” Joey gasped and ran to the tree to see for himself. “Wow! I thought for sure he would forget like last year.”
“Nah. I wrote Santa an extra special letter this year. I knew he’d come.”
“Do you think he was mad we didn’t have any cookies for him?” asked Joey.
“No, I warned him we didn’t have money for cookies, but if we were lucky to have chocolate milk, we’d leave that out for him.”
“We did! I’m glad that lady brought food the other day. How did she know we liked chocolate milk?” Joey asked.
“Well, I think Mrs. Thomas writes a list to the people who buy the food. I saw a form on the counter one time with a bunch of questions about what we need, how things are going and stuff. One question asked ‘What are some of your children’s favorite things?’ I wrote chocolate milk with both our names.”
“Oh,” said Joey. “I’m cold, Aaron.”
“I know. Here, take my blanket.” Aaron wrapped the blanket around his brother as Joey kneeled beside the tree. The small collection of sparkly gifts looked like a pile of gold to Joey, and his face beamed with delight. Aaron’s heart swelled with joy for his brother.
“I’ll be right back. I’m going to see if there is another blanket somewhere,” said Aaron.
Stopping for a moment at the living room window, Aaron admired the winter-covered street. It was another unfamiliar place, a brief stop on the way to somewhere else unknown. At least it was pretty here, and Mrs. Thomas was the nicest so far. She even read them a Christmas story.
Christmas. For the first time in his 12 years, he finally understood the hope all those church people had been talking about at Christmas. A tiny baby, born in a strange place to poor parents; he was little, he was in the dark, and he was outside. Kind of like how he and Joey were right now.
He continued to the bedroom for a blanket. That Christmas baby was special, he thought. So maybe there’s hope for Joey and me, too.
Aaron smiled. Chocolate milk and hope? Best Christmas ever!
This story was inspired by last week’s blog hop photo prompt… and a quote I heard during a sermon on Sunday. I hope you enjoyed it. Merry Christmas!