“Candy! Slow down! I can’t keep up!” Lilian stumbled down the cement sidewalk and hurried to catch up with her older sister.
Candy, the oldest of three girls, glanced back to make sure Lillian hadn’t fallen. “We don’t have a lot of time. The store closes very soon.”
“I know,” Lilian gasped, clasping onto Candy’s mittened hand and working twice as hard to equal her sister’s long strides. “But neither of us will get there it I get lost.”
Candy smiled and squeezed Lillian’s hand, slowing a bit. “That’s true. What an awful Christmas present it would be to come home to Mama without you.”
Lillian giggled, looking up at the right decorative lights around them. The sparkled and reflected off the snow on the ground, glowing red and green and blue. “I think Mama likes me.”
Candy grinned. “I like you too. You brought your nickel?”
Lillian nodded and held up her red mitten on her left hand. “It’s getting sweaty.”
They the bells jungles as they walked into the store. Cinnamon and warmth greeted them and a smiling Mr. Trill did the same. “Well hello girls. It’s quite the evening to be out, Christmas Eve.”
Lillian nodded and let Candy’s hand go. “I’m glad we got here before you closed the store Mr. Trill. I’m here to buy a bit of sugared ginger for a gift.”
Mr. Trill’s face fell. “Oh dear. I’m afraid we’re clear out of that. It seemed quite a popular one. Is there another that you maybe would like?”
Lillian’s heart dropped. “All gone? But those were Mama’s favorite.”
“I’m sorry Lillian. If I had known that you wanted some I would have set them aside.”
Candy watched her little sister interact with the clerk from a distance, giving her some space, but she didn’t seem very excited any more. She turned from the rolls of fabric and walked to cash register. “Is everything alright?”
Lillian’s lip trembled as she looked at her big sister. “He’s all out of the sugared ginger and I can’t get any for Mama.”
Candy looked surprised. “Sugared ginger? I didn’t know that’s what you wanted to buy.”
Lillian nodded. “But now I can’t get it for her.” She dropped her face into her hands and a tear trailed down her cheek. Mr. Trill looked uncomfortable but Candy knew what to do.
She knelt beside her sister and pulled gently on her hands, lifting her chin so she would look at her. “Lillian I’m sorry that there isn’t any. Do you want to pray and ask God to help you find Mama another gift?”
Lillian sniffed and looked around the colorful store full of wonderful things. “Ok… but Mama loves that ginger.”
Candy smiled “She does. Let’s pray.”
There in the store Lillian and Candy bowed their heads and prayed that God would help them to find a perfect gift for Mama. When Candy looked up, Lillian’s eyes were sparkling. “I know what I’m going to do with my nickel.”
“Give it to the church.”
Candy was surprised. “To the church? But you won’t have anything to give Mama.”
Lillian shrugged and pulled on her mittens, pulling Candy towards the door. “God answers prayers. He will take care of it.”
Candy couldn’t help smiling at the little girl and bid Mr. Trill a good night before heading back out.
Lillian was more than happy to lay the small coin down in the snowy steps of their rock chapel, but Candy knew she had to do something for her.
“Let’s get home now. We ought to be in bed before the clock strikes nine. You know how Papa is about waking early when we get to bed late.” Candy grinned at Lillian.
Lillian laughed and skipped home with her sister.
Candy wished she had the faith simple as Lillian’s, but she understood that things didn’t just appear. The small sack of candies that she’d hidden in her scarf with the new bodice pin under the bed would be from Lilian the next day. At least then she wouldn’t be disappointed.
The next morning when the light first shone in their faces Lillian was the most excited to hop out of bed.
Mama and Papa were awakened too and laughter rang through the house as they all gathered to open the stockings. Candy held Lillian on her lap as Mama opened her stocking and the delighted smile that lit up her face was reward itself to Candy.
“Why Lillian! These are my favorite! Thank you for getting them for me.” Mama smiled. “I’ll be sure to share.”
Lillian squirmed and as Papa took his turn she spoke in Candy’s ear. “See? God did get Mama the candy.” She kissed her sister’s check. “Just like you.”
Lillian turned back to watch the rest of the gifts opened, but Candy was struck. God had answered the little girl’s prayer. She had doubted Him and He had used her to be the instrument.
As they stood up to begin their breakfast preparation before the guests came, Candy sent up a prayer to heaven. First asking for the faith of a child, simple and trusting, and then in thanks that God had chosen to use her as an answer.
It was a merry Christmas.