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Christmas Eve Visitors
December 3, 2013 - Dorothy McKnight
It was Christmas Eve about 15 years ago, and just as in years past, most of my family was “home” with me and my husband, Jim, to enjoy a Christmas Eve supper together along with some holiday cookies, hot chocolate and a Christmas video or two. My oldest daughter was there with her daughter, as well as my two sons and their wives. One had a baby girl.
All eyes were questioning the unexpected knock on the door about 7:30. I opened it to find a young man standing on the porch with a little girl about 5 years old. Total strangers.
Before I even had a chance to invite them in out of the cold, the man asked, “Can I leave my little girl with you for about an hour?”
I couldn’t even think of a response.
Obviously sensing my hesitation, the man quickly explained. “ I want to attend the AA meeting next door and I don’t want to take my daughter with me.” (We live next to the Alano Club in Gladstone).
Although I was totally dumbfounded, I agreed and he pushed the little girl gently inside.
She didn’t appear to be scared, but instead took off her coat and hat at my request and sat down in a seat provided. All of us looked back and forth at each other, no one knowing what to say. Even my granddaughter was oddly silent. The child readily accepted an offer of hot chocolate and cookies as my son put a cartoon Christmas video in the player. Collecting themselves a little, my children greeted her kindly. Getting over her initial shyness, my grandchild quickly got drawn into the video and it wasn’t long before the little girl joined her on the floor in front of the TV. The cookies and hot chocolate slowly disappeared.
I sat on the couch looking at them, still full of confusion, trying not to meet the questioning gazes of my children. As I went into the kitchen a short time later to see what other goodies were available to dish out, I was followed by one of my daughters-in-law.
“Do you know them?” she asked.
I merely shook my head.
“Who does that???!!!” she asked in an intense whisper. “Who leaves their child with total strangers??!!”
“I’m sure I don’t know,” I responded quietly, reluctant to venture even a remote guess. But I tried to reassure her that everything would be fine.
An hour went by with no sign of the girl’s dad.
“What if he doesn’t come back?” I silently asked myself. “What do I do with the child? I wondered about whether to call the police and even considered fixing her a bed for the night and calling the police in the morning. If she did here by herself, what about Christmas?” I racked my mind to think if I had even a little gift I could give to her. My older granddaughter was a young teenager and her Christmas presents under the tree were much too mature for her. The other was a baby.
Perhaps the Holiday Store or the local Super Valu might have something more suitable and I thought about venturing out to check them out.
But before I could act on the thought, there was another knock on the door and the little girl’s dad was welcomed inside. But even though we asked if he wanted to sit down and have something to eat with us, he declined and said he had to be on his way.
I quickly went back into the kitchen and packed up an assortment of cookies and a little bag filled with Christmas candy and brought it out to man.
“I wish I had more to offer,” I said apologetically, not voicing my regret that I had nothing specific for his little child. The dad accepted the tokens most graciously and after the child put on her coat and hat, the dad stunned me with his next statement.
“You know...I went up and down the sidewalks in front of all the homes on this street several times asking God to show me where I could trust leaving my little girl,” he said gently. “As I passed your home again, I stopped. It seemed like God was saying, “Leave her here. They’ll take good care of her.”
With a quick hug for me and a “Merry Christmas,” they disappeared into the night.
Who were they? I’m not even sure they had a car in front. I don’t remember seeing any. Where were they going so late on Christmas Eve? I never heard him say anything about a home.
I’ve thought of the two of them many times over the years and I still have no answers.
But there is a verse in the Bible (Hebrews 13:2) that reads: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Were they angels? Maybe some day in Heaven, I’ll find out.
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