1 I was living in Germany, and World War II had just ended. We had little food and few clothes, especially shoes. My mother felt that it would be safer and less lonely if she, my sister, and I moved to my grandparents’ home in Tubingen.

2 Our first winter there was very cold. We didn’t have enough coats and shoes for everyone, so family members took turns going out for wood and food.

One winter morning new snow had fallen. The sun was shining, and everything looked downy soft. I wanted to go outside and play, but I knew that I couldn’t because I had no shoes.

3 Whenever I had wanted to go outside before, Grandpa had carried me on his back. Once, Aunt Bertha had wrapped me in blankets and taken me on a short sleigh ride. But I wanted to go out in the snow all by myself and play.

4 I could hear other children playing outside. I pressed my face against the frost-covered window and dreamed of being with them. Softly I said, “Oh, please let me have a pair of shoes.” I heard the door behind me close, and I wondered who else had been in the room.

5 That night I prayed very hard for a pair of shoes, and I dreamed about shoes all night.

6 When I woke up the next morning, a heavy brown package was on the foot of my bed. I carefully opened it. Inside was a beautiful pair of wooden shoes just my size! No one in my family seemed to know who had left them there.

7 I begged to go outside right away. Mother put a heavy pair of socks on my feet, then the new shoes, and out I went.

Grandfather stood on the porch, watching me play in the snow. He had a smile on his face and tears in his eyes. His secret present had been made with a great deal of love.

Illustrated by Colleen Hinckley