A Child’s Gift


by John C. Westervelt


        Riley and Piper, twin sisters, are in my Tuesday-Thursday Older 3’s class at Asbury. Their mother Jennifer teaches Young 3’s across the hall. It was the week before Christmas when this family walked down the hall at Asbury before class began. Piper was carrying a green sack with yarn for a handle. As she handed it to me, she said, “This is a Christmas present from Riley and me.”

        I could tell from the expression on Jennifer’s face that she wanted to tell me more. I asked. She began, “The girls and I were shopping in Hobby Lobby for gifts for Miss Jan, Miss Sue, and you. We had looked for a while when Piper said, ‘We need to get Grandpa John a Christmas tree for his new house.’” (The children knew I had moved to Crestwood at Oklahoma Methodist Manor.) Jennifer continued, “Piper picked out a Christmas tree and held it up for her sister and me to see. We agreed that the one-foot tall tree with tiny ornaments of Jesus, an angel, a lamb, a donkey, and a shepherd was just right.”

        At my new residence, I sat the tree beside my stained glass Jesus and Mary on a 16-inch round maple table. Earlier I had put a lighted ceramic church on one side of the TV and a gingerbread house with a green roof and a red chimney built on a Kleenex cube on the other side. In the opposite corner of the living room, the nativity scene that Nelda’s mom brought to Nelda and me from Israel was sitting on three levels of stacking tables. With my Christmas décor in place, I felt comfortable opening my residence to Crestwood neighbors at an open house on the Wednesday before Christmas.

        One of the highlights of my Christmas was a visit at ten in the morning on Christmas Eve. The twins’ older sister Sophie had been in my class two years ago. Sophie, Riley, and Piper, along with Jennifer and her husband Judd arrived in the Crestwood lobby and called me. I met them. Sophie, being the oldest, got to push the 2 on the elevator button.

        Before picture taking with the girls, I led the family on a tour of my apartment so they could see I had lots of space in my retirement home. They liked my stained glass windows. The one in the blue bedroom has birds. The gold and burnt orange window in the bedroom turned into an office is made of geometric shapes that fill an engineer’s mind.

        The girls studied the baby Jesus hanging on the tiny tree as well as the one that was a part of the nativity scene in the opposite corner of the room. Both images of Jesus are at eye level for Sophie, Riley, and Piper.

        I asked for help getting a picture of the girls. Jennifer arranged her daughters around me sitting in the corner chair. Judd captured the four of us on his cell phone. For me, both on camera and in my mind, Sophie, Riley, and Piper will remain forever at this loveable age.


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