The Christmas Gift ©
The ring in the store display case sparkled as brightly as a thousand diamonds. Its beauty dazzled Cindy's eye. Gazing longingly at it, she thought what a perfect Christmas gift for mommy!
Except, frowned the 12year-old, for one small detail. The ring cost far more than she could afford. But oh! wouldn't it look great on her mother's finger! It would replace the worn gold ring her mother removed after the divorce. And it would prove to her mother how much Cindy loved her.
Staring at the magnificent ring again, Cindy remembered the heartache and misery of the past months...her father moving out, her mother crying, her own confusion, her brothers' brushes with the wrong type of friends, and then finally her mother finding a full time job.
For Cindy the whole affair was devastating. She was certain her parents’ separation was her fault. From an almost perfect A student her marks dropped such an extent she was sent to a counsellor. No longer was Cindy a happy child even though her father came every other weekend to see her. How she pleaded with him to come back home! And now it was Christmas again and Cindy desperately wanted to buy something meaningful and beautiful for her mother.
The ring. Once again Cindy's eyes lovingly riveted on the brilliant jewel. Suddenly a terrible thought crossed her mind. Why, she thought, she could easily pass her hand over the jewellery and ever so gently remove the coveted ring. No-one would miss it. Least of all the store.
Casually Cindy glanced around her. No-one noticed the sad-eyed 12-year-old lingering at the jewellery counter....
Her palms wet with perspiration, her heart beating like a tom-tom, Cindy carefully, stealthily, lifted the beautiful ring.
There, she breathed. It was all over. So simple. Nothing to it. Cindy smiled as she struggled to regain her composure.
I'd better buy at least a chocolate bar, she told herself. I'd better look as if I came in here for something.
Quickly she approached the cash register, once again trying to control her breathing as it steadily increased. She had to work hard at appearing calm.
And then she saw it...freedom, the door. If only she could reach the door, then she could breathe easily again!
Suddenly Cindy jumped. Suddenly an unfamiliar hand touched her shoulder and a deep male voice gruffly barked, "pardon me, miss, didn't you forget to pay for something?"
Cindy froze. What followed was a nightmare. She felt her face flush hot with embarrassment, her stomach collapse. She tried to hide her head from curious onlookers as the security guard led her to the manager's office. It was dreadful.
Amidst tears she explained why she did what she did and that she was terribly sorry, she knew it was wrong. "And please," she begged, "don't tell my mother. She'll be so disappointed and ashamed of me. And I don't want her hurt like this."
"That's something you should have thought of before," chided the manager, Mr. Brydges.
Stern and strict and unforgiving at first, Mr. Brydges listened to Cindy and her sad story. He sat looking at her for a long time then left the room.
Waiting for him to return was the longest time in Cindy's life. She was sure he went for the police and called her mother.
But it was an understanding manager who heard Cindy's tale.
And by some miracle, perhaps it was the magic of Christmas, Cindy was forgiven when Mr. Brydges returned. The manager talked with Cindy for a long time about the true meaning of Christmas, and that it was a time for giving and sharing...not taking and stealing.
He said he understood Cindy's reason for taking the ring but it still amounted to stealing and stealing was a crime.
After what seemed like ages, Mr. Brydges smiled gently. "You know, Cindy," he said quietly, "I bet your mother would rather have a more thoughtful gift from her daughter. With the money you do have, you could buy her a flower pot and soil and plant any type of flower bulb in it you wanted to. Then during the cold, dark winter months you and your mother could watch that flower pot with great interest. Imagine the excitement when you see the first green shoots come up!"
Cindy thought Mr. Brydges' idea wasn't a bad one at all considering she knew her mother loved flowers. She pondered for a moment about what a coincidence it was that Mr. Brydges thought about flowers. It seemed the perfect solution.
"Come in to see me right after Christmas," Mr. Brydges was saying as Cindy jolted back to reality, "and tell me how your mother liked her gift."
"I will," said Cindy solemnly.
"And, young lady," continued the manager in a softer tone, "have a merry Christmas."
Cindy smiled shyly. "You have a Merry Christmas, too, Mr. Brydges. Thank you for everything and I promise I will never take anything that doesn't belong to me again.''
With a quick handshake and a deep sigh Cindy re-entered the hustling, bustling activity of the department store.