The eve before Christmas eve, his brother, not realizing Laurel was in the kitchen, chastised him about "recycling" gifts after seeing him wrapping the CTR ring his grandmother (who had passed away last year) had given him before he went on his mission, in a box in his bedroom. He was sure Laurel had heard, but she had never let on when she had received his gift the next night. He had felt unworthy of her love, for he had run out of time and money before he realized he had let it slip his mind.
Bless Laurel, he thinks to himself, as he read her story. And as he read, he saw she didn't quite remember things the way they happened...
Perfect Christmas Weather
Enchantment. There was no other word that comes to mind when I hear all the beautiful music and feel the spirit of thanksgiving that abounds this time of year. Michael invited me to spend Christmas Eve with him and his family. I like to remember it as if it were happening all over again...
With my gloved hand, I reach for the doorbell, but Michael must have been waiting for me, for the door opens immediately. He takes my hand as I step into the room, my face and ears burning from the sudden warmth. "What is that heavenly smell?" he asks as he helps me remove my coat.
"Plumeria," I say as I peel off my mittens, my hands feeling as if someone had applied Icy Hot to them. My footfalls are muted on the carpet as he leads me to the family room where "O' Holy Night" is playing softly, giving the room a Christmas ambiance.
The aroma of soon-to-be Christmas dinner fills the air, but this feast wasn't made with eggs or honey, but with a pinch of love and a dash of good Christmas cheer. ".
Michael makes an announcement when present-opening begins, for it is a rule in their household that no more than two people at a time are allowed to open a gift.
After Michael has explained a few of the gifts the others have received it is my turn. He has already received a few presents from me, including a book entitled, "One Hundred and One Classic Love Poems." They all josh him about it, but now, I feel the attention on me as he hands me a large box. I would come to find out very soon it was all a sham, for the object inside was quite small in size.
I tear into my gift with enthusiasm, saying, "What could it be?" Under the wrapping was a box, and inside that box was a box, and inside that box another box. Michael and his antics! I think. Finally, about five boxes later, in a tiny velvet box lined with satin, is a ring.
I breathe, for in our Church, returned missionaries like my Michael are encouraged to marry within a year after coming home to start a family, so you can imagine the wild thoughts that were going through my head! But as soon as run my fingers across the front of the ring, on the initials CTR, I know this is a friendship ring and breathe an inner sigh of relief. I slip the ring on and shiver, for it is cold against my skin. "I will wear it always," I promise, "as a reminder of what it stands for." I rub my thumb against the initials again. Choose The Right, the letters symbolize. I turn to Michael with glistening eyes. "You have given me the second greatest gift of all," I whisper.
"Yes," he says, understanding that the greatest gift we have ever received was born in a lowly manger in Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago.
This ring is a gift of which was given in love, with a simple instruction that was given in an even greater love. I wear this gift as part of a promise. My grandmother Christabel wore much jewelry I heard, though I believe she owned not one more piece of jewelry more significant, with the exception of her wedding ring, than this ring held for me.
I feel closer than ever to Michael; I know he has sacrificed a great deal to bring Christmas to me. This ring was a part of him through two of the most important years of his life--the years that helped shaped him into the man he is today--and in giving me this gift, it is as if he gave me a piece of himself.
She isn't telling the whole story, he thinks to himself. She writes as if that gift was bought exclusively for her instead of a last-minute attempt to not look like an insensitive jerk. Allowing a small sigh escape, he reads on.