Three weeks before Christmas Dad gathered the family together for family home evening. He and Mom sat on the couch, while the four children, Lisa, Janie, Brian, and Kevin sat on the floor. “I have something important to tell you,” he said soberly after the opening song and prayer. “You know that I’ve been laid off from my job until at least January, so I’m afraid that there won’t be many Christmas presents this year, even from Santa. I hope that you children won’t be too disappointed.”
“Can we still put up our Christmas decorations?” Lisa asked.
“We can decorate the house with the things we have packed away,” Mom answered. “Christmas will still be Christmas, even without a lot of presents.”
“Are we still getting a baby?” Kevin piped up. “That would be the best Christmas present.”
Dad nodded. “The adoption agency called last week and said that our baby from Korea would be coming anytime.”
“Is the baby a boy or a girl?” Janie asked.
Dad chuckled. “We won’t know until the baby arrives. That’s going to be a surprise.”
“Surprise!” Brian repeated, clapping his hands.
“Where’s Korea?” Lisa asked.
“Korea is across the ocean. This baby doesn’t have any parents and needs a loving mother, father, brothers, and sisters.”
“We have all those things in our family!” Janie exclaimed.
“That’s right,” Dad said. “We want to give the love we have to this baby too. Now, let’s have our lesson.”
After family home evening was over and the younger children were in bed, Lisa pulled the four flannel stockings out of the box in the closet. Each had a child’s name on it in red flannel letters. Her own looked old and worn after eleven years. Next came Janie’s, then Kevin’s and Brian’s. Brian’s stocking was the newest and looked the best. Next Christmas Mom would make another stocking for the new baby.
“May I hang them on the mantel, Mom?” Lisa called into the kitchen.
Mom came to the door, wiping wet hands on her faded jeans. “Just yours. I’m sure that Janie and the boys will want to hang their own stockings in the morning.”
Lisa nodded. I hope that at least our stockings are filled to the top with goodies, she thought. It will be hard enough to see a tree without all the usual wrapped packages under it. Of course, acting out the story of Jesus’ birth is special, and we’ll still do that.
Each Christmas Eve the family acted out the story while Dad read aloud from the Bible and the Book of Mormon. It was Janie’s turn to be Mary this year, and Kevin would play Joseph. Lisa supposed that she would be the angel and Brian a little shepherd. He was too big to be the Baby Jesus, so they’d have to use a doll for that role this year.
The family made December as special as they could without spending any money. The mountains near their home had lots of good pine trees, and after getting the necessary permit, they cut down a little one and hauled it home in their station wagon. Then they unpacked boxes of ornaments and decorated the tree.
The children created cards out of red and green construction paper decorated with glitter. They wrote poems for the greeting inside, then delivered them to friends and neighbors.
This year Christmas Eve was on Sunday, and the family all participated in the Christmas programs at church. Lisa enjoyed singing the Primary songs and listening to the ward choir during sacrament meeting.
On the drive home Lisa thought about their tree and the few gifts under it. It was difficult not to feel disappointed.
As they walked in the door, the telephone rang. Mom answered it. At first a look of surprise crossed her face, then she cried, “Oh yes! We’ll be there as fast as we can.” She hung up and turned to the family. “Lisa, can you tend the younger children for a few hours? Dad and I need to go to the airport.”
“Now? Today’s Christmas Eve.”
Mom nodded as Dad hurried to get their coats. “I think we just might have a surprise gift for Christmas. We’ll have our program when we get back tonight.”
The children waved good-bye from the window, and Janie murmured, “I wonder what it is. Mom and Dad were so excited. Maybe it’s the baby! Or it might be that Grandma’s coming from California.”
Lisa smiled at her sister. “I don’t think it’s Grandma—we’d have been getting a room ready for her. I guess we’ll have to just wait and see.”
The rest of the afternoon Lisa kept her brothers and sister occupied with stories and games. It was nearly dinnertime when their parents returned.
The front door opened with a whoosh of cold winter air, and Lisa, Janie, Kevin, and Brian ran to the door, practically stumbling over each other. “Where’s Grandma?” Kevin asked excitedly.
Mother laughed. “It’s not Grandma, honey, but it is somebody we’ve been waiting for.”
Dad went over to the couch, opened his great, heavy coat, and pulled out a large bundle. The bundle was a huge red and green stocking with blue and gold bows tied all over it. Inside was a baby boy with black hair and brown skin.
He opened his tiny almond eyes and blinked sleepily. On his head perched a red santa hat with a shiny silver bell.
Janie cried, “Our stockings on the mantel might be empty right now, but this one’s full to the top!”
Lisa thought that she would burst with happiness. Everybody was smiling at everybody else, and there were tears in Mom’s eyes.
“We have our Christmas baby now,” Kevin cried, and he hurried to set up the manger bed with Janie’s doll cradle.
“Please get me the scriptures, Lisa,” Dad said. He gave her a warm, understanding look, and the heavy, anxious feeling she’d had the past three weeks lifted from her heart.
Lisa pulled the book of scriptures from the bookcase. When she gave it to Dad, he gently put the baby in her arms. It didn’t matter anymore that there weren’t many presents under the tree. They had each other, and the spirit of Jesus Christ had come to their house that night through a tiny baby from halfway across the world.