The Christmas gift

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The bench sat alongside a lonely stretch of dirt road under the shadow of Gaskill Peak. Day after day horse drawn wagons passed by but their riders never bothered to stop and enjoy the breathtaking views from the bench. Many full moons passed when a woman appeared planting flowers around the wooden bench.

The bench sat alongside a lonely stretch of dirt road under the shadow of Gaskill Peak. Day after day horse drawn wagons passed by but their riders never bothered to stop and enjoy the breathtaking views from the bench. Many full moons passed when a woman appeared planting flowers around the wooden bench. Soon the bulbs sprouted and grew into beautiful spring lilies that seem to clothe the bench in a beautiful God-spun coat of many colors.  The woman also placed a small twisted circle of woven briers complete with large thorns over a rusty spike that had been driven into an old rugged wooden cross that stood behind and to the left of the bench.

Soon spring left the bench to be pummeled by the scorching winds of summer. As the last drops of moisture from the bench’s wooden slats evaporated into thin air, the bench began to crack and split. When cooler nights came the bench would gaze up at the stars wondering if this was all there was to life? He knew he had a purpose in life but still nobody ever seemed to find time to sit and enjoy his comfort and majestic views of the surrounding hills.

One day, as a gentle breeze began blowing, several leaves floated down from the heights coming to rest on the seat of the bench. The leaves startled but delighted the bench all dressed in their brightly colored warm hues of red, orange and yellow. The woman who planted the spring flowers and hung the crown of thorns returned to pay the bench a visit. She was not alone and in her arms was a black-cloaked figure that was holding a pumpkin. The pumpkin had been carved with a face and a flickering candle illuminated its interior.

One evening, as a full moon crested over the hills, the bench had many unexpected visitors. Hordes of children came by to stare at the ghoulish figure that was unmoved. The kids were all dressed up in costumes complete with scary masks that covered their faces. They all stopped to stare at the mysterious figure sitting on the bench who was holding his pumpkin head in his hands. They all laughed and giggled and some boys even threw rocks at the headless ghost’s glowing head.  The bench was overjoyed that someone was actually taking notice of him and had hardly noticed the rocks that the little boys had bounced off his back. 

Soon clouds began to gather pushing themselves up against the tall mountainsides. The gathering gloom brought with it rain and sleet that covered the ground. One night, as the temperature began to drop, the sleet turned into beautiful flakes of snow. Each flake was unique as it swirled through the cold night air landing so very lightly on the top of the bench’s seat. The swirling night air caused a shiver to move down his back. During the day, wagons carrying the harvest in from the fields made ruts in the muddy dirt road. The wagons were overflowing with corn, pumpkins, gourds and all sorts of fruit and vegetables. There were so many things to be thankful for, but still nobody came by to visit him. The woman who been there so many times before hadn’t been by in a long time he began to worry that she might not come back.

As the storms continued pounding the countryside, the snow began to pile up around the bench until one day he couldn’t see anything at all. He sat for many days and nights alone shivering in the solitude of a snowdrift. Then one day he heard someone shoveling snow and the familiar voice of the woman. She was singing hymns with each scoop of the shovel as the cold wet snow was removed. 

At last the warmth of the sun was beginning to shine on Him. The woman began adorning him with brightly colored glass ornaments, garlands and beautiful tinsel. She then laid a manger at his feet with a small baby that had been wrapped in swaddling clothes. A loving mother and father were set up as if they were admiring the baby. Magi and an assortment of sheep, cows and donkeys were placed in the snow just outside the proud parents.

The bench was now the center attraction of the entire village as people, both young and old, passed by to admire the newborn babe. Nobody threw rocks this time and even a choir stood by singing praise to the baby who was some kind of special king. The bench watched all the smiling faces that peaked out from under the colorful scarves wrapped tightly against their necks. But it wasn’t until the preacher arrived and began reading from a special book that the bench understood who the baby was. He was the Son of God and prophesied Messiah that was given as a gift to the entire world!

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