A Christmas Parable

Published: Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 11:50 AM.

Before I knew it I was spilling my guts to a perfect stranger; told him everything – except the part about me wanting a bicycle. I figured he might think I was selfish. He never said a word except for when I was telling him how I wished I could carve out a wooden train for Billy. He said I could do it – it would just take a little practice – that he used to be a carpenter himself; he kinda’ smiled and said he’d never carved out a train though.

I also upset him a little when I got down to the part about nobody caring a whit for a nothing boy like me. He looked me right in the eyes, didn’t scare me mind you, but it sure got my attention. “Don’t say that, Ryne. And don’t you ever believe it for a minute. Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

We didn’t talk much longer – he stood up and placed his hand on my head – guess he was wondering why I was out here bareheaded. He didn’t say nothing about my missing hat and I played like I didn’t notice those awful scars on his hands. He said he had to go and that I’d better hurry home – a storm was coming. Ha, I had him there! Listen, I’d lived in these hills all my life. Too clear and crisp; the storm had done passed through. He didn’t know as much as I thought he did, “Hey, Mister, you’re plum wrong about—”

He was gone. I looked all around. I couldn’t even find his tracks.

It started snowing before I got to Calumet Creek. And I got a little turned around where the trail forks behind the old Sutton place. Dark was setting in. And I wasn’t exactly sure where I was. I stumbled around looking for a tree or a rock that I could recognize – I couldn’t be lost – the house has got to be close by! I climbed up on a ledge and there was the light from the barn. Thank goodness! I was home in ten minutes.

Mother was all over me.  “Son, come look, you won’t believe it!”

You could have knocked me over with a feather! Billy was on the floor, pulling the finest wooden train I ever saw between the legs of that old cane bottom chair Uncle Wyatt let us have. Seven cars with a Red Caboose! Perfect. And Coleen was a’hugging a Raggedy Ann so hard I don’t think either one of them could breathe.

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