From the Relief Society Magazine, November 1961 –
A Christmas to Remember
By Betty Lou Martin
Fluffy, white snowflakes danced merrily down from heaven, making the ground a mass of white. Julie Carroll smiled as she remembered her youngest son Scottie’s description of the snow. “The ground is like one great big birthday cake, Mommy,” he said, “with lots of fluffy, white frosting, and the lights in the houses are its candles.”
How two boys can be so different, Julie surmised. Roger, nine, and the elder of the two Carroll children, was a realist. To him, black was black and white was white, with no deliberations. Scottie, on the other hand, was an incurable dreamer. He was also blessed with a sincere compassion and love for other people that reached beyond his six years. Often Julie was amazed at the wisdom and understanding that he showed for others.
Julie went to the kitchen and began preparing dinner. Her thoughts were filled with the coming Christmas holiday. She, too, was an incurable dreamer, and her soul was full of love and good will that prevail during that season. If only we would open up our hearts and give our love all during the year instead of just during Christmas time, what a wonderful world this would be, she reasoned.
“Scottie, don’t slam the door like that, honey,” Julie called out. “Be sure that your feet are clean. I don’t want you to track snow all over the linoleum.”
“They’re clean, Mommy,” Scottie said, “but the dog’s aren’t.”
“Oh, Scottie, I told you not to let him in the house. Teddy will just have to stay outside. Now, young man, would you mind telling me where you have been spending all of your time lately?”
“Just outside playing in the snow.” Scottie pulled an uncooperative Teddy by the collar and led him toward the back door.
After dinner that night, Blair Carroll pulled on his overcoat and galoshes. “I’ve got to go over to old Mr. Wright’s place. He just appointed me his lawyer today, and I have some legalities to go over with him. I don’t know why he picked me. Personally, I would just as soon not have anything to do with him. I hear he is such a disagreeable old man.”
“He sure is, Dad,” Roger spoke up. “If any of us even go near his house, he comes out and hollers and screams at us.”
“Now, Roger, you know very well that Mr. Wright is old, and he has been alone for many years. He likes his peace and quiet, and I don’t want to hear you talk like that about him,” Julie reprimanded her son.
It was a well-known fact that Mr. Wright was a man of means. It was also apparent that he carried on business transactions at his home, as men often went there to confer with him. Julie was, however, a little surprised that he should choose Blair as his lawyer.
“Christmas is next week, Mom,” Roger spoke up. “When can we put our Christmas tree up?”
“We’ll put it up just as soon as Daddy has time to get it, dear.” Julie was excited about Christmas, too. She was worse than the children. Blair always teased that her eyes lighted up more than a child’s over Christmas, and she always teased back that everyone was a child at heart.
After Scottie had said his prayers that night and was about to climb into bed, he put his arms around Julie’s neck and looked into her eyes. “Mommy, we are all God’s children, aren’t we?” he asked and Julie could see the seriousness in his deep blue eyes.
“Yes, we are, honey, everyone, and God loves us all.”
“Golly, I’m glad, Mommy,” Scottie said.
Julie detected a note of relief in Scottie’s voice. There he goes again, Julie thought. I wonder whom he is worrying about this time.
The next few days Julie was busy cleaning, helping the children get the Christmas tree trimmed, and trying to do some last minute shopping. The air was filled with the happy voices of the children, as they laughed and whispered about the presents that they had for Julie and Blair. Even Roger, the realist, was mysterious, but Scottie was so mysterious that Julie was almost concerned. He disappeared for periods of time and didn’t come home until just before dinner. When they would question him about where he had been, he would only casually remark, “Just playing with Teddy.”
The day before Christmas came in true tradition, with a soft flurry of snow.
The house was aglow with Christmas, with gaily wrapped packages under the beautifully decorated tree. The fragrant smell of the pine mixed with the warm odors of cookies and pies baking.
As Julie walked by the living room door, she caught sight of Scottie sitting on the floor in front of the Christmas tree. He was staring up at it as if deep in thought.
“What are you thinking, Scottie?” Julie asked, as she kneeled down on the floor beside her son. She put her arm about his shoulders and turned his face toward her.
“Christmas is such a pretty time, Mommy. I just wish everyone could be happy.” Scottie spoke softly.
“I know, darling. I was just wishing that same thing,” Julie replied. “Christmas is the time when more than any other time, we need someone to love and someone who loves us. It is a time when no one should be alone.”
“”Gee, Mommy, I just don’t want anyone in the whole world to be alone at Christmas.” There were tears in Scottie’s eyes. “It makes me feel so sad.”
Julie felt the tears come to her own eyes. She hugged him to her. “You are such a sweet little boy, Scottie, and your father and I love you very much. Remember, dear, always to be as thoughtful and considerate as you are right now, and God will always be with you.”
Blair arrived home early that night. “I’ll build a fire in the fireplace while you’re finishing dinner,” he volunteered.
It was a tradition in the Carroll household that every Christmas Eve should be spent at home, gather around the fire, toasting marshmallows and listening to Christmas music. Then just before it was time to retire, in the stillness of night, Blair would read from the Bible the story of the first Christmas, of that time long ago when Christ was born.
“Blair, call the children. Dinner is ready now,” Julie called out.
Roger and Blair came and sat down at the table.
“Where is Scottie?” Julie inquired.
“I thought that he was in here with you,” Blair answered. “Roger, don’t you know where your brother is?”
“Golly, Dad, the last time that I saw him, he was in his room wrapping a present, but that was about an hour and a half ago,” Roger replied.
Anxiety gripped Julie’s heart. Where would a little boy go alone on Christmas Eve?
“Now, don’t worry, Julie,” Blair said, as he and Roger bundled up to go and look for Scottie. “Roger and I will find him in no time. You just stay here and wait.”
“No, Blair, I’m going to help look for Scottie. I just can’t stay here and wait.”
The air was refreshing as Julie trudged along through the snow. Somewhere in the night a Christmas carol rang out, “Oh, come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant.” Now and again the laughter of a happy child was clearly audible. Julie continued on down the block, checking at each of the houses. They hadn’t seen Scottie all evening, they said. “Scottie, Scottie,” Julie called, hoping to hear him answer, “Here I am, Mommy,” but there was only silence.
Julie paused directly in front of Mr. Wright’s house. She had checked everyone else in the neighborhood. If Blair and Roger hadn’t had any more success than she, they would have to call the police.
Julie didn’t know why she looked up, but her eyes caught sight of something in Mr. Wright’s window. It was a star with blue lights on it and a miniature angel in the center. Why, that is just like the decoration that I had last year for my window, Julie reasoned. I decided to use a different one this year. How odd, Mr. Wright has never been known to decorate for Christmas before.
Julie tried the latch on the gate in front of Mr. Wright’s house. It was open. She made her way up to the porch. It is a long shot, she surmised, but it is certainly worth a try. She rang the doorbell, and Mr. Wright, a short gray-haired man, with piercing dark, eyes, answered the door.
“Mr. Wright, I’m sorry to bother you, especially on Christmas Eve, but I’ve lost my little boy, Scottie.” Julie’s voice trembled. “I don’t suppose by chance that you have seen him?”
“You must be Mrs. Carroll.” Mr. Wright actually smiled at Julie. “Come in, won’t you. Scottie is here. I thought that you knew that he had been coming over here.”
Julie followed Mr. Wright through the foyer, and then into the study, where Scottie sat before the cheery fire.
Scottie looked up at his mother. “Hi, Mommy. I just came for a minute to bring Mr. Wright his Christmas present.”
“Why didn’t you tell me where you were going, darling? We’ve been so worried about you.” Julie hurried over to Scottie.
“I didn’t think you would let me come, Mommy. Mr. Wright is my very best friend, and you said that people shouldn’t be alone at Christmas. I didn’t want my best friend to be alone on Christmas Eve.” Scottie’s little face was downcast. “I guess that you’re going to scold me, Mommy.”
Julie looked at Scottie and then at Mr. Wright. she realized then that Mr. Wright was not the disagreeable old man that everyone had made him out to be, but rather a lonely soul, with the need to be loved.
“It’s all right, darling. I wouldn’t scold you for anything, but I think that you had better come home now. Your Daddy and Roger are out looking for you, too. We’d better let them know that you are all right,” Julie said gently.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Carroll. I wouldn’t have caused you this concern for anything. Scottie and I have been friends since this fall. He has really been wonderful company to a lonely old man like me. I hope that you will let him continue to come and see me.”
“Of course he may, Mr. Wright,” Julie answered sincerely.
“Oh, and Scottie, I have a present for you,” Mr. Wright said.
He went to the closet and brought out a large box wrapped in bright colors of red and green.
“Your Mommy will probably have to help you carry it home. It is for your brother, Roger, too.”
“Thank you, Mr. Wright,” Scottie said. “I hope that you will like what I gave to you. I made it myself.”
“I’m sure I shall.”
Scottie turned to Julie. “Mommy, can’t I please stay for just a minute more. Mr. Wright and I were going to read the story of the birth of the little baby Jesus just like we always do at home.” Scottie’s eyes pleaded with Julie.
“Scottie, your Daddy will be worrying about us both by now. I have a better idea.” Julie turned to Mr. Wright. “Mr. Wright, we are just about to have our dinner, and we would be honored if you would join us, then, afterward, we can all hear the story of the birth of Jesus together.”
Mr. Wright hesitated, and there were tears in his eyes. “Mrs. Carroll, I’m just an old man, and I don’t want to interrupt any family affair, especially not tonight.”
“You won’t be interrupting any family affair, Mr. Wright. We want you to come. Besides, it seems that Scottie has already taken you into our family, and you’re a part of it, whether you want to be or not.”
As Julie walked toward home with Mr. Wright and Scottie, she knew that this would be a Christmas that she would long remember, after her sons were grown up and gone. She knew, too, that she had been taught a lesson in unselfishness, love, and understanding, taught by her own little son. She had been so wrapped up in her own family affairs that it never occurred to her to look elsewhere, to reach out and help someone who was alone and lonely at Christmas.
Julie felt Scottie’s small hand go into hers. It had stopped snowing now, and as she looked up toward heaven, one star shone more brightly than the others, and it seemed to Julie that its rays reached down from above and embraced Scottie.