A Gift of Love


Kathy looked out her bedroom window at the deep snow piled high against the barn and the fences. Her father had shoveled a narrow path from the house to the barn, and she could see him now struggling to open the heavy barn door against the wind so he could get inside to feed the animals.

Kathy sighed as she thought, Why couldn’t this big snowstorm have waited a few days, or why didn’t I see the picture of the beautiful shawl a few weeks earlier?

She wanted the shawl for a Christmas present for Grandmother, who was a dear companion to Kathy. Grandmother was always so gentle and kind and full of laughter that she made life fun. But lately, Grandmother couldn’t seem to keep warm. She would say, “Is there a door open somewhere?” or “I feel cold across my shoulders.”

Early in the fall Kathy decided to knit Grandmother a lap robe for Christmas. With Mother’s help, she had already gotten a good start on it. Then, as she was looking through the mail-order catalog one day, she saw the shawl. It was white and lacy and edged with long fringe. It was the most beautiful one she had ever seen.

That’s what I’m going to give Grandmother for Christmas, thought Kathy. It’s much prettier than the lap robe I’m making, and she can wear the shawl to parties or to church or just around the house.

Quickly Kathy checked the price and then counted the money she had tucked away in her top dresser drawer. But she didn’t have quite enough!

What can I do? thought Kathy. Christmas is only a month away. Then Kathy remembered that Mrs. Taylor owed her some money for babysitting.

Happily, Kathy picked up the catalog and slipped into the kitchen to see what Mother thought about this gift for Grandmother.

“It’s a lovely idea,” said Mother. “However, I think Grandmother would be just as happy with a lap robe that you made yourself. But if you decide on the shawl, have your order ready tomorrow and I’ll stop at the post office when I’m in town.”

Before going to bed that night Kathy spread the unfinished lap robe on her bed and placed the picture of the shawl beside it. As she looked at them both, she thought. The lap robe is pretty and it wouldn’t take me too long to finish it, but the shawl is beautiful. Grandmother would love it. I must get her the shawl.

So Kathy folded the unfinished lap robe and tucked it into her knitting bag. The next day she filled out an order for the shawl, and her mother mailed it when she went to town.

Now, it was just four days before Christmas and, although the postmistress had called to say the shawl had arrived, Kathy couldn’t pick it up because the drifting snows had closed the only road into town.

Tears filled Kathy’s eyes as she watched her father push through the storm on his way toward the house. I won’t be able to pick up the shawl until after Christmas the way the snow is piling up now, she thought unhappily.

Just then, Mother opened the bedroom door. “Kathy, I know you’re terribly disappointed about the shawl, but how much do you have left to do on the lap robe?”

“I could never finish the lap robe by Christmas, Mother,” answered Kathy, trying hard to hold back the tears. “Oh why won’t it stop snowing!” she fumed.

“Darling, we can’t do anything about the snow,” said Mother patiently, “but we can do something about the lap robe. Let’s see how much you have left to do.”

Kathy got out her knitting bag and laid the unfinished lap robe and the loose knitted squares on the bed. “Mother,” she sighed, “I just can’t finish it. I don’t even have all the squares done. Christmas is just four days away and we have so many other things to do.”

“I think we have time,” said Mother.

“Time for what?” asked nine-year-old Becky, poking her head through the doorway.

“To finish Grandmother’s lap robe before Christmas,” answered Mother.

“I can help,” offered Becky. “I could knit a square for you. The coin purse I knitted last summer looked good, didn’t it, Mother? And I could do your share of the dishes so you’d have more time to knit.”

“Oh, Becky,” exclaimed Kathy, “you’re a dear! Thank you.”

“How many more squares do you need?” asked Mother.

“I’ll need ten more,” Kathy counted, “besides this half-finished one. Then the squares need to be sewn onto the others, and an edge crocheted. We might as well forget it!”

“Well, let’s see,” said Mother, ignoring Kathy’s last remark. “I could finish sewing the squares together. Becky could finish the square you’ve started and then help you with the new squares.”

So as soon as Grandmother went to bed that night, out came the yarn and needles.

Kathy knit.

Becky knit.

Mother sewed.

Clickety-clickety-clickety went the knitting needles.

Daddy said, “What’s going on? I never saw such busy fingers. I guess if I’m going to belong to this family I’ll have to get me some knitting needles too!”

Becky, Mother, and Kathy just smiled and kept on working and as each square was finished it disappeared into Mother’s bedroom to be added to the other squares.

The next evening all the squares were finished. While Kathy crocheted on the edge of the lap robe, Mother sewed the last square onto the other end, and Becky stood watch at the door so Grandmother wouldn’t suddenly pop in to see what was going on.

The next day Kathy crocheted every spare moment she had. She excused herself quickly from the table before anyone else was through with lunch. Grandmother commented, “My goodness, Kathy, you’ve been in such a hurry all day that you’ve barely taken time to eat.”

“Just finishing up a few odds and ends, Grandmother,” said Kathy with a smile. “There’s lots to do at the last minute.”

“Maybe I could help,” volunteered Grandmother.

“Thank you, Grandmother, but with Mother and Becky’s help I’m just about finished,” Kathy said, patting Grandmother’s cheek.

As Kathy left the room to go back to her crocheting, Becky winked at Mother and hurried to her room.

Just as the big hall clock struck five, Kathy’s bedroom door opened. “Almost through?” questioned Mother.

“Almost,” Kathy responded.

The next thing Kathy heard was, “Time for dinner. Are you going to make it?” said Daddy, popping his head into the room.

“Yes, I only have three inches to go.”

“Come and eat,” Dad said. “You’ll need some strength to finish those three inches.”

After dinner Kathy hurried back to her room. Soon the lacy edge was finished, the yarn cut and tied, and the lap robe spread smoothly on her bed.

Why it’s really pretty, thought Kathy in amazement. It looks like Grandmother’s flower garden. It’s almost as beautiful as the shawl!

Just then Mother and Becky came into Kathy’s room.

“It’s lovely!” exclaimed Mother.

“Gorgeous!” added Becky.

“And finished!” said Kathy.

“Hurry and get it wrapped,” said Becky. “It’s almost time for our Christmas Eve program and we need you to play for our carols.”

Once again Kathy looked out her bedroom window. During the day, fresh snow had fallen. It was a soft, sparkling snow that seemed to reflect the light of a thousand stars that twinkled in the faraway heavens.

Kathy thought for a moment of helpful little Becky who hated to do dishes, yet had done her own share and Kathy’s too for four days. She thought of Mother and Daddy—all so loving, so understanding, so helpful. Then, brimming with love and happiness, Kathy picked up Grandmother’s gift, wrapped it in bright Christmas paper, and hurried into the living room to join the family.

[illustration] Illustrated by JaNeanne Webster