A big package arrived last evening at the door,
as I brought it in I wondered what was in store.
Wrapped in newspaper, tied with ordinary string;
Memories flooded in when I saw such a thing.
Once I’d seen a gift like this; I remembered when —
long buried disappointment came to life again.
Years ago Mom and Dad had tried their best;
I shuddered, I didn’t want to recall the rest.
I saw it contained a smaller box inside;
what did that wrinkled red tissue paper hide?
A faraway childhood scene replayed in my mind;
I sighed as I recalled the emotion I’d find.
That dreadful school party, someone had drawn my name;
For days I had felt such embarrassment and blame.
Inside that box there was a box of shiny green
holding hopes for the future, a romantic dream;
Heaviness tightened in my throat as I realized
my expectations sought an unrealistic prize.
Then I saw the contents of the final box so small;
disillusioned, it was not what I’d thought at all.
It held only a scrap of paper, I could not have guessed;
handwritten on it was a single word, “Forgiveness.”
Memories from the past mingled and swirled around;
I held back long neglected tears, trembled and frowned.
Then the importance of that one word dawned on me;
Heaviness and gloom turned to light that I could see.
What can I give to my parents, who died years ago?
What can I give to those from my childhood I used to know?
What can I give to others who had been part of my life?
What about the struggle, the frustration, the strife?
As I whispered that word I felt warm and light and free.
Then I realized: what did God give me?
There are Christmas memories that we’re bound to recall
Forgiveness is the way to celebrate it all.
by Elaine Hardt ©1997