It was the day after Thanksgiving and seven year old Scott Masters sat by the window watching it snow. The huge flakes swirled and danced among the bare branches of the trees then gracefully landed on the bare ground. Scott's mother was busy clearing off the massive oak mantle over the fireplace. Every year on this particular day she performed the same ritual. Scott's grandmother and great-grandmother had done likewise; it had become a family tradition. The mantle was at last stripped of all the collectibles and Mrs. Masters brought out the box that held the nativity set. The set had been handed down over the years and one day Scott would be the recipient.
"It just wouldn't be Christmas without this nativity," Scott's mother said.
"Yeah Mom," Scott replied his eyes glistening in anticipation.
Scott at an early age had fallen head over heels in love with the ceramic figurines and crèche that were contained in the sturdy cardboard box. One of the figures was his favorite. It was the ceramic cast form of the baby Jesus lying on his manger. It had become an obsession of Scott's. Scott watched impatiently as his mother began pulling each piece from the box and unwrapping the miles of tissue paper she would wrap them in before storing them at the end of the Holiday season. She would place each of the characters in their respective place. The last piece out would always be the baby Savior. Scott's father would always let Scott place the tiny baby where it belonged.
"Well sport," Mr. Masters said peering over his newspaper, "You ready?"
Scott shook his head affirmatively as his father picked him up and handed him the final piece of the set. His hand slightly shaking Scott gently set the baby Jesus in the center of the Holy family. He smiled as the transformation of the mantle became complete.
"Nice job!" Scott's mother cried, "Just perfect as always."
Scott started counting the days till Christmas. He had made a rather extensive list of everything he wanted Santa to bring. School had been canceled because of the snow that had arrived a week after Thanksgiving. Scott's mother was in the kitchen fixing lunch and Scott being seven was totally bored. He sat in the living room and soon he began to think about the nativity set and the baby Jesus. He silently carried a high back chair from the dining room and placed it close to the fireplace. His eyes glowed as he took in the scene. His hand found what it was searching for the figurine was in his hand.
"You will always be my favorite," he cooed to the figurine.
As he stretched out to place the baby Jesus back in his spot the chair he was standing on leaned slightly and it set him reeling to the floor. As Scott fell he lost grip of the figurine and it went smashing to the base of the fireplace. The piece shattered into a million splinters of glass. Worse yet Scott could hear his arm breaking as he tumbled down to the carpeted floor. Having heard the sound of breaking glass and Scott as he hit the floor, Scott's mother ran from the kitchen.
"Oh my goodness!" she cried wiping her hands on the white apron she wore, "My poor baby."
She carried Scott to her car and drove him to the hospital. Scott was discharged with a shiny new cast that ran the full length of his arm. Some Christmas this would be, he thought to himself. On the ride home Scott's mother drove in silence. Scott realizing what he had done felt a lump forming in his throat.
"Mom," Scott finally said, "Mom I am so sorry. I didn't mean to break the baby Jesus."
Scott's mother sat staring intently at the road in front of her. There was sadness in her eyes and Scott thought he actually saw the beginnings of tears at the corner of her left eye.
"Honey," she finally sighed, "I'm just glad you are going to be okay. That's what really matters to me."
Though she spoke the words, Scott knew that the destruction of the piece had really hurt her very deeply. He himself felt like crying.
That night after Scott had gone to bed he heard his parents discussing the day's events.
"Honey," Scott's father said to Mrs. Masters, "I hate it that the piece was broken. It meant so much."
"I know," Mrs. Masters replied, "what makes it really hard is I can't replace the piece. The set is so old that they don't make them anymore."
Scott fell asleep that night dreaming of a broken baby Jesus pointing an accusing finger at him and saying, "Now look what you've done."
The days to Christmas became fewer and fewer. Scott sat at the kitchen table. He would today write his letter to Santa Claus. His mother had brought him a pencil and crisp white sheet of paper. There were a million things Scott wanted, but his mind wandered to the nativity set and the piece that it was missing. He knew what he had to do so with pencil in hand he wrote:
I don't want any toys this year. I broke the baby Jesus and I am really sorry. Don't bring me no toys, just bring Mom a new baby Jesus. I will be a good boy.
He placed the letter in the envelope his Mom had addressed for him and carried it to the mailbox. His eyes gleamed with a magic that grows in the eyes of little children.
He watched and waited each day. He went so far on several occasions as to fall asleep under the tree just so he might catch a glimpse of Santa. Time flew by but still no package arrived. Presents started appearing under the tree, but none seemed the right size to hold the tiny figurine. Scott had given up. He would fall asleep having the same horrible nightmare each night. It seemed Santa had forgotten him.
Christmas Eve night Scott decided to look one more time under the tree. If the figurine wasn't coming he wanted to know what else might be there for him. As he made his way to the far side of the Christmas tree Scott spotted a box that had not been there before. It was wrapped in gold foil paper and had a red and green bow affixed to the top.
Scott pulled the present out from its resting place and read the tag.
To Scott, Mr. and Mrs. Masters Merry Christmas From Santa
"Mom, Dad!" Scott screamed at the top of his lungs, "Come quick! See what Santa brought!"
Scott's parents made their way to the living room and stared in wonder at the box. Scott smiled and handed the present to his Mother.
"Here Mom," Scott beamed, "you open it."
Mrs. Master with unsteady hands slowly undid the wrap on the box. Inside was the exact figurine she had lost. She began to cry softly, rocking back and forth, cradling the figurine in her hands.