Rose and the Christmas Angel
(A Christmas Tale for Little Children)
The year was 1926 and it was early afternoon two days before Christmas and little Rose sat outside in her large snow covered garden.
"Oh, I'm so bored,” she said aloud to herself looking over at the huge snowman she’d built.
“All my friends from school are all with their mummies and daddies, and having fun, but I am always left by myself stuck at home."
Rose's parents were very rich as her dad owned a large Import & Export business, and were very important people in their small community, and although they loved her very much, they were always so involved in either business or social life that they just didn't have much time to spend with her. Even though she had a large room full of all sorts of all sorts of toys, games, books, and endless little gadgets still she was unhappy and bored with it all.
Actually, she didn't have so many friends at school; well not real friends that is. Everyone just liked her for her money and didn't really care about her as a person. Not that she made it easy for them to be friends with her anyway! She never sought to make friends but rather expected everyone to just like her.
She was actually quite spoilt and selfish, yet she was very bright and polite in class, which caused her teachers to always side with her in most matters, this of course made many of the other children jealous of her.
The only one she really had as a friend was Sandra, the daughter of one of her dad's friends, but Sandra was a bit of a snob. She looked down on everyone and always had sly nasty comments to make about them all. This often really made Rose feel bad, but then as no one else really was friendly to her she hung about with.
"Oh, I just wish that I had never been born!” she thought. “Life is so unfair!"
"Hello," a voice from nowhere called.
"W...who, wha...a...t!" stammered Rose looking around nervously wondering who on earth could have sneaked up on her. Glancing around her Rose couldn't see anyone.
“Strange,” she said, “I was sure I heard someone.”
Again the voice came.
"Hi there Rose, I’m over here."
Looking round again, she still couldn't see anyone
“I'm going crazy," she thought, “I'm hearing voices."
Then looking up, Rose still could see nothing, but then all of a sudden she saw it — a little redbreast robin, just sitting there perched on a snow-covered branch, staring at her!
"Hello Rose; how are you, you look a little sad today," it said.
"You talked! But, birds can't talk!" Rose exclaimed!
"Oh, is that right, did you not just hear me talk?" replied the robin.
"Well, yes, I suppose I did," answered Rose a little incredulously.
”If I talked to you, then I suppose birds can talk, can't they?"
“I guess so," said Rose, "but am I dreaming?"
"No, Rose, you’re not dreaming," replied the robin. "I saw you sitting here and you looked so sad, I wanted to see if I could help you."
“Oh, that's so kind of you! But you see nobody really cares about me. I've no friends and I wish I hadn't been born," said Rose sobbing a little despondently.
“Now, Rose, it's not so bad! Actually, you have a lot to be thankful for. Some of your school friends are a lot worse off than you."
"They all have mummies and daddies who spend time with them. It's not fair," Rose said.
"Do you know you are very special?"
"Me, very special, ha, I don’t believe that!"
"Yes Rose you are special and do you want to know a secret? I have a very special mission for you, but you have to find it," said the robin.
"Ooo, do you mean rather like a hide-and-seek game?" answered Rose excitedly.
"Yes, now you have it!" chirped the robin. "Now I'll give you some clues, how about that?"
“You will, oh that’s so kind of you,” Rose replied getting more into the swing of things and not feeling silly anymore talking to a robin.
"Now how would you like to go for a spin through the air?" the robin asked.
"Do you mean, fly?" replied Rose kind of shocked.
"Yes that’s right, to fly!" he answered.
"Oh, that would be super!” she squealed in delight, “I've always wanted to fly as a bird. Do you really mean that?"
"Yes, now just close your eyes and count to three!"
Closing her eyes tightly, Rose began to count.
"One, two, three," Rose counted.
POW! — In one blinding flash, she opened her eyes, and to her surprise she was a beautiful little robin!
"Wow! Look at me!" she said in amazement, "I'm a bird!"
"Yes, Rose, you are a bird, but only for one hour. During that time I want to show you some things which I hope will help you in your search," said robin.
"This is fun," said Rose as she took off into the air.
"Wheee, I love it! Where are we going little robin?"
"Oh, you'll see! Just follow me."
Rose followed behind and soon came to a beautiful park. The robin settled down on a nice branch, overlooking the duck pond.
"Why did we come here, Robin?" asked Rose.
"Just wait a moment. You'll see soon," replied the robin.
"Look!" she suddenly exclaimed, "its Michael and Claire. And who’s that with them in the wheelchair?"
"Oh, that is their little brother," said the robin, "Tony is his name and he has a rare disease and is crippled."
"Oh! I never knew that!" Rose answered sadly looking again at him.
"Strange that they never mentioned to me that they had a brother when we spoke at school," she questioned.
"Well, have you ever really talked with them and asked questions? Have you shown concern or really cared?"
Rose, suddenly feeling a little ashamed, answered, "Well no, I guess I haven't!"
Thinking of how she expects people to come make friends with her, rather than her make the effort to go make friends.
"Sometimes Rose, people do not volunteer information of their own violation. Did you know that Michael and Claire never sit at home playing and reading like you do, they rarely join other kids outside or playing sports at the youth club? They instead prefer to spend their time helping and teaching their young brother. You see, their parents cannot afford to send him to a special school or to even try to get the treatment to help him, and they are so busy making the money needed to live and pay their bills, they have not had a family holiday for four years!"
Seeing the amazed look of incredulity upon her face, the robin added.
"Yes Rose, you have a holiday every year in all sorts of special exclusive places, but not everyone has the privilege of doing that. And today when you were moping about not getting to play in the park, they were busy helping Tony. And do they get to go play in the park? They bring their little brother to the park to feed the ducks and to give their mother and father some time alone."
"Oh, I never knew that," said Rose, beginning to feel some tears welling in her eyes.
This was the first time she’d ever shed tears for anyone other than herself. The robin noticed this but said nothing as they watched the others below.
Claire collected some snow and made snowballs handing them to her little brother who squealed in delight and threw it on her. Rose smiled as she watched them enjoy themselves.
"Well, we need to be going to our next place," said the robin, "Come, and let’s be off!"
Rose lingered a moment longer watching them feeding the ducks, then took off into the air.
As they flew over the city, they neared a very dirty, grimy place. The roads were full of holes, the sewers were broken, and the houses had cracked windows and leaky roofs. Actually the smell was quite off-putting to Rose. She had not seen this part of town before, actually she had always only seen the rich parts and traveled first class, it was a new conception to realize that not all were as blessed as she was.
The robin landed on a snow covered third story windowsill and Rose landed a few inches away from him. She was just going to ask why he had brought her there when she looked in the window and exclaimed.
"Why, it's Francis and Marie! What on earth are they doing in this dreadful place?"
Looking over at Rose, the robin answered as though it were a matter of general knowledge, "why, they live here!”
“Live here!" she exclaimed in horror, "how could anyone live here!"
"You see," said the robin, "not everyone is rich like you. Their parents have worked hard and long to save the money to pay for them to go to your school. They sacrificed to give them a chance they thought they never had and to make their children have a better education. But look in the bed, their mother is sick; she has come down with Tuberculosis due to the damp conditions here. Now their father has to make the hard decision to pull them out of school, as he needs to be able to pay for the hospital treatment for his wife. Otherwise she may die!"
Starting to cry, Rose peered in at the poor fare spread before them, "This is Christmas,” she said, “Isn't there anything we can do?"
"Yes, Rose, there is always something you can do; nothing needs to be as it is. There is always something people can do to change things, but that takes unselfishness and love. Yes Rose you can do something but you need to find out what that is. But come, our time is running out and I have one more place to take you. Come!"
And with a flash, he took off soaring into the air. Rose followed, but not as thrilled and happy as when she first took off in the air. Her spirit was heavy; yes she was despondent but not as she was earlier for her thoughts now was of others and not herself.
The snow had started to fall lightly and the cold flakes tickled her as she flew through them. Soon they were flying near to her home and came to a large property fenced off and a bit rundown.
"I know this place," she said. "I pass it all the time and have often wondered who lived here."
"Yes," replied robin, "but you never asked or inquired!"
Soon they settled down on the snowy window of a large room. The window was difficult to see through as it was all frosted on the outside and steamy inside, but there was a small section that was clear. As they peered in it seemed to be a dining room. Inside were about thirty children sitting, eating some bread and milk. They were very poorly dressed, but all looked happy.
There was a sweet-looking old man at the head of the table, smiling and full of joy and love. But his eyes were worried and forlorn-looking.
The robin just perched there and watched, as Rose studied the room intently. Then she looked away and glanced over curiously at the robin.
"So, Rose, these are orphans, and the old man is the one who owns this home. He is worried as his funding is running low. He can hardly afford to run the place and keep the children fed and clothed."
"But he looks so sweet," said Rose looking again at the old man, "and the children seem to be so happy?"
"Yes," replied robin "he is, and the children dearly love him. But it takes more than that to run such a place; it takes money to run such a place. He only has two helpers, a cook and a housemaid. They both are very dedicated and they give willingly to do what they can; working for barely anything. It is rare in this world but not enough. You see, in this world of selfishness, none cares enough to help or lend a hand. He is old and not so good at raising funds. He needs someone to help, someone with vision and inspiration."
“But surely someone can lend a hand, there are so many in this town who could help,” Rose said.
"Oh my!" said the robin. "It's time to go! Come quick! We just have time to get back!”
And then off both of them flew, once more up into the cold blue sky far above all the sadness below.
Rose was back in her snow-covered garden, and once more a little girl, looking over to her robin perched on the small tip of a broken stick.
"You have shown me much, dear Robin. I think I understand now. I see how I have been selfish, thinking only of my happiness. I didn't even know my schoolmates. I have been so uncaring! I cared little of others I have lived in a world of my own creation, centered on me and my thoughts and whims."
“Yes, Rose you have learnt a great truth. The best way to find happiness and joy is by giving it to others. These things you saw can be changed. But now dear Rose I must leave."
"Oh no, but Robin will I ever see you again?"
"Who knows, Rose? Some day, we will meet again!"
And with that, off into the air he flew and soon disappeared into the horizon.
Rose sat deep in thought heedless of the cold and the snow now falling ever faster around her.
That night at dinner, it was a different girl who sat there, bubbling with love and telling her parents all about the orphanage, Michael and Claire, and Francis and his mother! Her father listened in silence. Rose had never seen him quiet like that before.
After a moment sitting in deep thought, he looked at Rose.
"You know, I don't think I ever really knew you or tried to. I feel ashamed that I have been blind not only to all around me, but also to you, my dear. For I have a treasure worth more than all my money in you. Tonight you have given me a new life! Tomorrow, I will call my lawyers and start the procedure to set up a Trust for the orphanage so they will have all they need. As for Michael and Claire and dear little Tony, well, they can all come with us after Christmas for a small vacation. And I'm sure we will be able to arrange somehow a good doctor to help Tony. And not to forget Francis and Marie, I will see they will continue to go to your school and I will take care of the hospital treatment for their mother. I'll also have a word with the mayor about some needed changes in that area of town."
"Oh, Daddy!" said Rose jumping into his arms, "I love you! Thank you so much! Can I also give some of my toys and games to the orphans?"
"Of course, my dear, of course!" said her father, “you have given me the best of all Christmas gifts.”
“What is that father,” she asked.
“A new life, a new purpose, a new daughter, and a better look at me. But most of all too once more see clearly the true meaning of Christmas, not endless parties or expensive gifts but of showing love and concern.”
Rose’s mother, who had been quiet up till now, just sitting, viewing her daughter through new, appraising eyes, suddenly spoke.
"Rose dear, I'm sorry I've not spent time with you like other parents. I want to change it now. From now on, I promise we will spend one day a week together and we can do whatever you want during that day."
"Oh, Mom, thank you!” Rose said, with tears in her eyes. Moving over to her mom, she gave her a big hug.
“I love you, Mommy!"
Sitting unnoticed to all at the window was a cute little robin that almost seemed to be smiling, looking up to heaven.
“Another successful Christmas mission!” the robin whispered to itself.
And in a flash the robin changed into an angelic being and flew off far into the sky, leaving a house filled with love and joy! Once more the true Christmas spirit had been brought into a home; once more the true meaning of Christmas had been made evident, love, unselfishness and helping others.
‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’