As they trudged through the snow together, she finally decided to ask her question. “Daddy, if you wanted to make a present that celebrated Jesus being born, what would you make?”
Daddy didn’t talk for a while but then he said, “I think I would draw a picture of baby Jesus in the manger.”
Autumn thought about this a little and looked around at the snowflakes falling down around her. “I can’t draw very well.”
“The point of a gift is the love behind it,” Daddy said speaking in a big way but she understood.
When they had returned to the house, Autumn Rose collected the supplies she used for preschool and shut herself in the kitchen with Mommy. “And nobody else come in,” she declared, “please!”
It took her quite a while, but finally she had finished every single present and triumphantly carried them out into the living room to arrange them under the tree.
That night the family snuggled together in front of the fireplace and listened to Daddy read the next part of the Christmas story. The lights on the Christmas tree cast a beautiful golden light on the family, and the room was warm and cozy. Heather Leigh even fell asleep on Mommy, but it had been many Christmas times since Autumn Rose had done that. Still, she did feel sleepy.
Christmas Eve seemed to be the longest day in the world. It was so close to Christmas, but so far away too. They were kept busy though with getting Christmas dinner ready for when Grandma and Grandpa came the next day. There was, of course, pie, and Autumn was again the special helper on that job.
Daddy was very busy with his sermon, but he peeped into the kitchen once in a while to chat with his busy, happy family all working there.
Finally it was again bedtime and Autumn Rose hung her stocking in the row with the others, right between Summer’s and Heather’s. It looked nice there hanging empty and very red in that long, happy row; she remembered it still when she snuggled into bed. She was wearing her special nightgown from last Christmas, but even this didn’t help her sleep for what seemed a long while.
And then the sun was shining on the snow that was heaped up like the mashed potatoes they would eat later. The girls scrambled down the stairs, the older ones helping the younger ones so that they could go faster. And the stockings! They were even prettier this morning than last night! They were still very red, but not so very empty; and Autumn could see candy canes peeping out at her.
Daddy, Mommy, Morgan, and Heather soon joined them and the squealing and the laughter and the thanks went on and on. The tree was seen to next, and Autumn looked with shining eyes at her stack of presents. Savannah and Prairie had teamed up to make her doll clothes, and Morgan had made a pair of shoes! Her gift from Summer was a pretty little doll shawl, and Daddy and Mommy gave her a new picture book with beautiful pictures that made her want to stare at them whether or not it was Christmas. She also received a new dress sewn by Mommy. Grandma and Grandpa sent a little music box.
“Autumn,” Mommy said causing her to look up. They were opening the presents she had made. Very flat presents they were, but beautiful with the hearts drawn all over the envelopes.
Each person’s picture was almost the same—a picture of baby Jesus in the manger and everyone looking at Him. And each picture had the words “the best gift” penciled on it to remind them all the Perfect Gift was Who they were really celebrating.
“Thank you, Autumn,” they all said, and she felt very happy indeed.
Breakfast was very good, but they were all so excited for lunch that no one really thought about it much. After that, Grandma and Grandpa came and a whirlwind of wonderful things happened before it was time to go to church.
Daddy stood up front (reminding Autumn very much of her stocking because he was wearing a bright red sweater) and led them in prayer. Then he told them the Christmas story again, and they sang several more Christmas carols.
“Daddy,” Autumn Rose said slipping her mittened hand into his big one as they walked out of the church and to the van.
“Yes?” he said looking at her with a smile.
“That was a very good Christmas,” she said looking up at the twinkling stars.
“Yes, and we remembered again the Perfect Gift, didn’t we?”
She nodded and smiled.