Tiny Allison tiptoed toward the glittering Christmas tree. Her wide, blue eyes reflected hundreds of lights, like stars shimmering in the velvet sky. Inexperienced as she was with the repetition of the holiday year after year, her heart beat fast with the thrill of Christmas Eve anticipation.
Upstairs her mama worked busily, wrapping and preparing for the dawn of Christmas morning. She was unaware a little peeper was straying from her bed. The older children knew the routine. They had dozed off in their rooms early in the evening, unwilling to tempt fate. But Allison’s excitement, refusing to be contained, had kept her awake.
Softly, a plump, pink finger reached out to touch her favorite ornament on the tree. The snowman. Sugared in iridescent glitter, he sported a pale blue scarf situated under merry eyes.
She folded her legs under her on the velvet tree skirt, setting up a silent, fervent vigil. The muffled strains of a Christmas carol floated from the floor above. “O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant…“
Her twinkly eyes swept around the room, drinking in the festive display. Plaid stockings hung above a cheery fire. The red walls reflected the poinsettia’s holiday spirit. Softly her gaze came to rest on the milky white nativity set. Mary and Joseph frozen in porcelain perfection.
Her mother had warned her not to touch the figures many times, but tonight Allison couldn’t contain the urge to hold baby Jesus. Timidly she crossed the room to the table where the family, a cow, some sheep, a shepherd, and the wise men sat amid evergreen sprigs. Slowly the child’s hands plucked the infant from his manger bed, cradling him reverently. “Come and behold him, born the King of angels, o come let us adore him, o come let us adore him…”
She tiptoed back to her station under the tree, baby Jesus held fast in her tender grip. Soothed by the warm fire and soft sounds from above Allison soon dozed off, curled tight in her flannel night gown, baby Jesus pressed against her chest.
At midnight her mama felt her way cautiously down the stairs through the dim house, presents balanced precariously under her chin. Stooping to deliver the packages, she was surprised by a little gift already tucked beneath the tree. Allison’s golden curls shimmered against the crimson cloth. Her pink bow of a mouth was tied in the soft smile of sleep.
As her mother scooped her up Allison’s eyes fluttered, her hands gently opening to reveal the stolen baby, “Has he come, mama?”