What's the most meaningful gift you've ever given someone? The poignant Christmas story "Ansel's Special Gift" addresses this very question. It shows the joy that can derived from giving gifts to others and how these gifts can remind us of what's truly important in life. Read "Ansel's Special Gift" and see how it relates to your own Christmas experiences.
"Ansel's Special Gift"
Ansel Nordquist steadied himself against the cold night wind. Tightly gripping his gold-knobbed cane, he stared at the bright and lovely things in the Saks Fifth Avenue window. "What to get?" he asked himself. He needed to buy only one present, but it had to be perfect. Perfect. Just right. And time was running out.
Snowflakes, thick and fluffy, tumbled through the air. In the street beside him, a dapple-gray horse with steaming breath pulled a carriage of young lovers beneath the stars and twinkling Christmas lights.
Busy shoppers scurried by, feet crunching in the new-fallen snow. Faintly, he heard the ting...ting...ting of The Salvation Army bell. The air was heavy with freshly cut pine mixed with the smell of hot popcorn from the street vendor's cart.
A gleeful toddler squealed, "Hurry, Mommy! Come on! Come on!" He tugged hard at his mother's skirt, pulling her from the boring windows filled with gowns and jewels and furs to the exciting windows, down the street, loaded with wondrous toys.
Ansel turned cautiously, steadied by his cane, and shuffled toward the next Saks window, wondering what beautiful things it would hold. His cashmere coat and white silk scarf kept him warm against the chill. Nevertheless, the bitter wind brought tears to his eyes. Or was it the wind? Perhaps, instead, it was the season.
Window after window, Ansel passed. Each was filled with different things that, at various times in his life, he had bought. The diamond ring. The wedding band. The casual and the elegant clothes. The maternity wear and the baby things. The toys. Oh, yes, the toys. Especially the ones that came in pieces and had to be assembled.
How she'd laugh and how he'd curse, trying to put the toys together. She'd bring him coffee. They'd sit and talk of Christmases past. She'd drink the milk and eat the cookies the children had left for Santa. Then, when all the work was done, they'd sit on the floor in front of the fire and pray to the child who had changed the world. They'd pray to the Prince of Peace. They'd kiss. They'd hold each other close. They'd feel the fear of all the world and the safety of each other. Yes, these were the times when they knew love best. These were the fullest of years.
A smile crept across Ansel's face. "Wonderful, wonderful times," he thought. "But my gift...I must find my gift."
Ansel turned from Saks and walked down the street. Past the haberdashery. Past the bakery. Past the laughter-filled cafe. He came to a stop at the toy store window. He watched the circling electric train running through mountains and villages. The sailboats. Airplanes with gas engines. Mesmerized, he watched them all, losing himself in the ghosts of the past and their hollow, faraway laughter.
Then a shiver ran down his spine. Despite his hat and gloves and coat, Ansel was growing cold. He was growing tired. But nothing...nothing could he find. He could not find his treasured gift.
Then he saw it! There it was! Tucked in the corner. High on a shelf. Up behind the expensive toys. Yes! There it was. The perfect gift. The most perfect gift of all.
Ansel entered the shop and purchased the gift, requesting that it be nicely wrapped. Then he walked back to the street and hailed a cab.
"Where to?" the cabby asked.
"St. Elizabeth's Hospital," Ansel replied.
Go to the next page to find out how "Ansel's Special Gift" ends.