A PENNY WORTH OF LOVE
© Vickey Stamps 12/1-09

While she was very young yet, Becca knew somehow that something was going wrong at home. Her parents were sad about Christmas. Usually it was the happiest time of the year for all of them. It was only a couple weeks away and….unlike other years, there was no tree in their home. There had always been a tree. Her baby brother would not mind. He was just a baby and didn’t know of Christmas and trees. It was not as if she wanted anything that cost a lot of money. She had learned that material things might make her happy for a short time. That didn’t last long and soon she would long for other things. That just seemed to be the way it was. Her mom has sat down with her many times, singing songs, telling stories, or giving what she called ‘a lesson from life.’
The lessons had to do with how her parents felt about life. The stories and songs all carried (most of the time) a similar message, of giving to others that brought more than receiving. Today Becca decided she was on a mission. She thought of the Christmas story and knew it had taken place long ago. Becca knew gifts had come to the young Christ Child, and from that precious gift so long ago, had come forth Christmas and its gift of love .Today her mother had told her a story about a penny found and angels tossing them to earth, in an act of love and giving. She had enjoyed the story and thought as she walked along to her grandma’s house (only a short walk away) of her feelings about Christmas. She had a found penny in her pocket. She could give it to her father. He had lost his job, or perhaps to her mother to use at the grocery store. She wasn’t sure just what to do. She’d ask her grandma. Grandma seemed to have all the right answers. Maybe it was because she was so much older. She curled her fingers over the penny and memorized what she knew about it.
She sure loved her grandma. Now her house seemed to be like a holiday kitchen with smells of gingerbread and other wonderful things. Every day, the two of them had made something special for the Christmas season, and every day Becca got to wrap it in waxed paper and put it into a small bag to take home and share with her family. Today the grandma had asked her to go along shopping with her. She had said she needed her help and advice about what the right things would be to get for Christmas. Becca wanted to shop also, but what could she buy for a penny? It was always fun to go places with Grandma, and do whatever they did. It would make today very special. After a cup of Hot Chocolate and a couple of shortbread cookies, they bundled themselves into coats, scarves and rubber boots, and got into the old car to go into the big city.

It was beautiful in the city, even in the daytime, for bells were hung above and across streets, as well as on lamp posts with bits of holly and green vines everywhere. Becca thought she’d never seen so many people out at this time of year. She was sorry her parents could not have joined them, but had heard them say “No money this year for Christmas”. She minded not having gifts, but she could get over that. What was the worse was the look of sadness deep in their eyes, despite the efforts to put on smiles when they saw her watching them. She sure wished there was something she could do. She wished she was older. She’d find a job and give them the money.
Grandma put the car into a parking garage in the busiest part of town, and they began their trips in and out of different stores. She’d talked to grandma about her parents and Christmas, and how much she wished she had a gift for them to bring back the smiles. She wished Daddy had a job. Maybe then things would be okay again like they had been before. Her grandma had taken down the Bible and showed her a verse that said the greatest of all things was love. Becca was thinking about that now. Grandma bought little things here and there, always asking her what she thought about them. Now the shopping seemed to be over and they began the walk back to the car.
Near the garage sat a shabby smelly bearded man. He was one of those Becca had seen before in the city. She pulled away slightly for they always made her frightened. Her grandmother felt the tension and stopped now before the man. “Hello sir” I hope you are warm. Is there some small way we can help?” The man looked at them both with blurred eyes. They seemed shiny-like perhaps he wanted to cry. His face seemed somehow distorted as he looked up at them. Maybe he was remembering days he didn’t spend sitting or lying on a sidewalk, begging. The grandma introduced herself and Becca to him, saying they didn’t have much in the way of money, but here was a dollar and she hoped it would help in some small way. She hoped Christmas blessings would come to him and others like him, and he could find life easier. She would pray for that to happen. Becca and the grandma walked away. Becca knew that what had just happened had been done in love. She remembered their earlier talk. She knew what she could give for Christmas.
“Just a minute…Grandma” Tugging her hand away, she ran back to the sidewalk man. “Sir….Sir. ….An angel dropped this penny on the sidewalk for me to find. I know it did because my mom told me a story about it. It has to do with love. It has a picture of a man on it. He can keep you company when you feel lonely. Mom and Dad told me the Baby Jesus would always keep me company if I felt alone. My parents said he is always there knocking at the door of our heart if we will just open it and let Him come in. Do you hear him knocking? Here is my penny. It is nice and warm and it is my gift for you. I know it is not very much, but it is all I have. Have a Merry Christmas.”
Becca smiled and felt happier then she had all day. The grandmother told her how proud she was of what she had done. The sidewalk man, had they returned to see him…was no longer to be found. Perhaps he was an angel sent for Becca to visit with. Only the Lord knew. At any rate Becca would tell her parents all about it. While she’d been gone, they’d found a small tree and put it on a table in the living room. Tonight they’d get out the decorations. She would pop popcorn, with a bit of help from them, and string it along with cranberries on the tree. It didn’t matter if gifts were beneath it. Becca had already given the best gift of all…a penny in love. She’d think on that this season and try to keep remembering it as more days passed in her life. She knew her Dad would get a job and all would one day become even better. Now it was good enough.
LIFE WAS GOOD
11:13 a.m.

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