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Hope in a Box

An inexplicable reminder of God’s love helped me face my first Christmas without my parents…

Photo of Nativity figurines

The large cardboard box sat on the floor, untouched. It was the day after Thanksgiving, when I usually decorate the house for Christmas, but I wasn’t in the holiday spirit. It would be my first Christmas without Mom.

She passed away a few months earlier after a long battle with breast cancer. And my beloved stepfather died just two years before her.

Losing them both was harder than anything I’d ever gone through. Opening that box—filled with their favorite holiday decorations—would be another reminder that they were no longer with me.

The Nativity! I’ll start with that, I thought, pulling it down from the attic. The porcelain Hummel Nativity scene, a gift from my brother-in-law and his wife, was my favorite decoration. Each year they gave my husband, Peter, and I a new piece until the set was complete.

There were stately wise men, shepherds, Mary, Joseph and a sleeping baby Jesus along with a donkey, cow and baby lamb. Maybe it sounds strange, but I’d always felt like it was missing something, I just couldn’t imagine what.

An hour later, I’d covered the tree in lights and tinsel, framed the doors in garland, and hung the stockings. I guess I can’t put this off much longer, I thought, opening the box of Mom and Dad’s decorations.

Inside lay homemade and hand-blown glass ornaments, wooden toy soldiers—dozens of decorations from my childhood, each one a memory of happier times. Oh, how I missed my parents! Lord, help me to know they are still with me.

After I’d finished decorating, I reached back inside the box to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. What’s that? I thought, feeling another, smaller box way down at the bottom. I pulled it out, opened the top and unfolded the faded yellow tissue paper.

There, in the palm of my hand, sat two porcelain angels I’d never seen before. Hummel figurines meant to go with a set. I put the angels in the Nativity scene. Now it was complete. The angels were a perfect match, and a heaven-sent gift from Mom and Dad.

Read more Mysterious Ways.

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