The Gift

by SMJ

Disclaimers: I do not own them. They are the property of MGM, Mirisch, and Trilogy Entertainment. No money made.

Notes: This is based on a true story I heard a couple of years ago. It still hasn't escaped my mind.

"What are you smiling about, JD?" Buck asked irritated. "We are stuck in the middle of nowhere with no communication to the outside world whatsoever and freezing our asses off. And you're enjoying this apparently."

"Just remembering that there's more to Christmas than presents," JD answered.

"Well, now you've aroused my curiosity. So, out with it. What gives?" Buck enquired.

After a moment's hesitation, he began, "You know I grew up in Boston. And not in the best part of town, either. Anyways, times were hard but somehow we always managed. But things began falling apart for us in the winter of '89. My mom had just lost her job because she had refused to take a cut in her pay. With Christmas only a couple of days away there wasn't much we could do about it. But, even with the little we had, we still possessed more than most in our neighborhood. Heck, we were one of the few who at least could afford a tree. But almost no presents. Still, it was one of the best Christmases I ever had," JD smiled as he said that, remembering.

"Do you want to know why? Because that year I learned the joy of making others truly happy."

December 24th 1989

Snow was falling as JD ran down the steps leading away from the church but home to where presents awaited the return of the little boy. One could practically feel the eagerness rolling off him, letting the usual bounce in his step become more pronounced.

"JD, wait. Don't go running off now!" his mother, Anne, chided.

"But mom, we gotta hurry or else Christmas is gonna be over and the presents will be gone!" JD said, sliding to a stop and turning around.

Although she disapproved of his grammar she let it slip; no use to get in a fight on Christmas Eve.

"You know that's not true!" Anne laughed, catching up with him. "The presents will still be there even if we should get in late."

"Still!" the boy insisted.

There was a five-and-ten some distance from the church that both of them passed.

Usually filled with people milling about in a hurry to get their shopping done, only silence and emptiness reigned that afternoon. It was quite a sight to behold. Next to it was also the stopping place for the Greyhound buses. It was closed for Christmas, but, there was a family standing outside the locked doors, huddled under the narrow overhang in an attempt to escape the snow as well as the cold. JD wondered briefly why they were there but then forgot about them as he raced to get home quickly.

Once they did get home, there was barely time to enjoy the few presents; both were expected at the Christmas festivities organized by their neighborhood.

As they were hurrying down the street, they passed the five-and-ten, once again catching sight of the family.

Anne stopped, leaving JD to wonder what was going on. She had that determined look on her face she used to get when her mind was set on something.

"JD, do you remember what I've told you about the spirit of Christmas?" she paused, "About the sharing and helping those in need?" JD nodded, slightly puzzled.

"What do you think if we did a little helping ourselves?" she asked, her eyes twinkling. Still not understanding, his mother pointed towards the family and he realized what she meant. A smile lighting up his face he answered "I think that's a great idea, mom."

Laughing happily, he ran up to the family which consisted of four: the parents and a little boy and girl.

"Merry Christmas," he greeted. "Are you waiting on the bus?"

The man nodded, replying that they were headed to Leyden.

"Well, the bus isn't going to be here for quite a while yet and you are freezing standing here. I can't offer a lot but at least let me invite you to my home to get you warmed up," Anne offered.

After a moments hesitation they agreed, following JD and his mom home.

The apartment itself was not big but still large enough to host the six of them.

Anne had asked the children on the way if Santa had found them yet. When only silence answered her, she continued "Well, I didn't think so, because when I saw him this morning he told me he couldn't find you all and asked me if he could leave your toys at my home."

Instantly, the children's faces lit up and they began to bounce, laughing excitedly.

As soon as she had opened the door, they had raced up to the tree and claimed their treasures. The little boy held a small red fire truck in his hands and his sister a blue ball.

+ + + + + + +

"At first I was a bit jealous, they were my presents after all. But then I imagined myself in their shoes and I realized that mom was right. The spirit of Christmas was to share and to help. And that made me feel good all of a sudden." he said and continued, "After dinner they needed to be on their way again. They thanked us. Mom offered them to spend the night but they declined. They had to get going."

JD reminisced, "You know, it's been over ten years but I still remember that smile the little boy was giving us when they left."

JD turned his head to look at Buck, smiling. Buck had a strange expression on his face. Finally, he said "Have I ever told how proud I am of you, JD?"

As the story had unfolded itself, Buck had found his heart warming up with the knowledge that his young friend truly was a God's blessing to all of them.

He reached over to ruffle JD's hair and pulled him in a heartfelt hug.

"You really mean that?"

"You betcha!"