The Unexpected Christmas Gift
The Christmas season has always been my favorite time of year. When my parents were alive, Al and I would usually travel back to my hometown to spend Christmas with them. I loved taking my son to the little pond where I learned how to ice-skate, barreling down the sledding hill where there was always the danger of running into a tree, and getting up early to enjoy a cup of coffee with my mom while everyone else was sleeping.
After my mom died in 2005, with my dad following her in 2008, there was no longer any reason to travel back to my hometown for Christmas. Al and I began other traditions with our son, but a few years ago, I found myself missing my mom more than ever. In all honesty, I was in funk. When Christmas Eve arrived, I was still in a dismal frame of mind, but since I didn’t want to ruin the holiday for my guys, I put on a happy face, got ready for the Christmas Eve service, and off we went.
The church was packed, and after finding seats, I was perusing the crowd and saw an elderly woman sitting in the very center of the church, but she was sitting all alone. I’m of the firm belief that no one should be alone on Christmas Eve. Telling my guys we had to move, and not surprised when they exchanged looks because I have the tendency to switch seats often, we headed across the church, scooted our way past people already sitting in that pew, and reached the elderly woman.
Asking her if it would be okay if we’d join her, she looked up and beamed the most beautiful smile at me. Reaching out, she took hold of my hand, proclaimed herself delighted to have me join her and announced that she was Bobbie Jean and had recently celebrated her ninetieth birthday. After introducing my husband and son to her, Bobbie Jean immediately won my heart by saying my husband was quite a dish and my son was obviously charming. Before I knew it, we were chatting away as if we’d known each other for years.
She’d recently lost her husband of almost seventy years, and was in town to visit her son who was singing that night in the choir, which was why she was by herself. When she asked why I wasn’t with my parents, I told her my parents were gone, and giving my hand a squeeze, she said. “And you’re missing your mother, aren’t you?” After that, she never let go of my hand, holding it throughout the service even when we shared a hymnal. The ache I’d been feeling for much of the Christmas season melted away, replaced with a sense of peace I certainly hadn’t been expecting.
When it was time to light the candles, Bobbie Jean tipped the flame of hers to mine, smiling at me when it finally took, and then, she leaned closer and whispered, “That’s my good girl.” I cannot tell you how many times my mom said those exact same words, and in that moment, I felt as if my mom was with me, holding my hand and letting me know that even though she was no longer on this earth, she was still watching over me.
After the service, Bobbie Jean’s son joined us, and before I knew it, it was time to part ways with my new friend. Bobbie Jean pulled me into a hug, called me her delightful girl, kissed me on the cheek, then thanked me for chasing away the ache that had been settled in her heart all day. We then exchanged smiles that didn’t need any words because unconditional love doesn’t need to be explained.
I never saw Bobbie Jean again, nor did I ever see her son at any of the services I’ve attended since. But for that one special night, Bobbie Jean and I were the best of friends, kindred spirits who needed exactly what the other had to give.
For this Christmas season, I wish all of you the blessings of friends and unconditional love, and hope you’ll experience an unexpected gift from God – quite like the gift He sent me, a gift named Bobbie Jean.
~ Jen ~
More about Out of the Ordinary
Rollicking New Release from Humorous Historical Romance Author Jen Turano
Miss Gertrude Cadwalader hoped her position as the paid companion to Mrs. Davenport would be easy. But as she becomes acquainted with her employer, she realizes the wealthy Mrs. Davenport has a strange tendency to be a bit light-fingered with other people’s trinkets. Gertrude is relieved when Mrs. Davenport decides to have a quiet summer away from the social scene–until the woman changes her mind in order to help a young socialite launch into society.
When Gertrude is caught in the act of trying to return one of the trinkets by Mrs. Sinclair, the mother of shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair, the woman jumps to an unfortunate conclusion. Harrison is determined to mend fences with Miss Cadwalader, but he’s unprepared for the escapades a friendship with her will entail.
Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books named top ten romances from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO.