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"A Christmas Gift"

We were the only family with children in the restaurant.
I sat Justin in
high chair and noticed everyone was eating and talking.
squealed with delight and said, "Hi there." He pounded
his fat baby
on the high chair tray. His eyes were wide with
excitement and his mouth
bared in a toothless grin. He wriggled and giggled with

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It
was a man with
tattered rag of a coat; dirty, greasy and worn. His pants

were baggy
with a
zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be
shoes. His shirt
dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His
whiskers were too
to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it
looked like a road

map. We were too far from him to tell, but I was sure he
smelled. His
waved and flapped on loose wrists.

"Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,"
the man said to
Justin. My husband and I exchanged looks, "What do we
do?" Justin
to laugh and answer, "Hi, hi there." Everyone in the
and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was
creating a
with my beautiful baby. Our meal came and the man began
shouting from
across the room, "Do ya know patty cake? Do you know
he knows peek-a-boo."

Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously
drunk. My husband
I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for
Justin, who was
running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row
bum, who in
reciprocated with his cute comments. We finally got
through the meal and

headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and

told me to
him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between
me and the door.

"Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or
Justin," I
As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to
sidestep him and

avoid any air he might be breathing.

As I did, Justin leaned over my arm, reaching with both
arms in a baby's

"pick-me-up" position. Before I could stop him, Justin
had propelled
from my arms to the man's. Suddenly a very old smelly
man and a very
baby consummated their love relationship. Justin in an
act of total
love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's
ragged shoulder.
man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his
lashes. His aged
hands, full of grime, pain, and hard labor, gently, so
gently, cradled
baby's bottom and stroked his back. No two beings have
ever loved so
for so short a time.

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Justin
in his arms for
moment, and then his eyes opened and set squarely on
mine. He said in a
commanding voice, "You take care of this baby." Somehow
I managed, "I
will," from a throat that contained a stone. He pried
Justin from his
chest-unwillingly, longingly, as though he were in pain.
I received my
and the man said, "God bless you, ma'am, you've given me

my Christmas

I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Justin

in my arms, I
for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying
and holding
Justin so
tightly, and why I was saying, "My God, my God, forgive
me." I had just
witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a
tiny child who
no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and

a mother who
saw a
suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind, holding

a child who
not. I felt it was God asking, "Are you willing to share
your son for a
moment?"-- when He shared His for all eternity.

The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me,To enter

the Kingdom of

God, we must become as little children."

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Copyright 2006 Joke A Whenever

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