Nathan’s Gift

I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation (Moro. 8:17).

Christmas music filled the kitchen with a happy feeling. The cookies Marinda and Mom were baking for family home evening smelled sweet and spicy. And yet Marinda suddenly felt sad.

“You’re pretty quiet,” Mom said gently. “Is something wrong?”

Marinda sighed. “I know that I will always remember Nathan, but will Nathan remember me?”

Mom put the cookie sheet on the counter and looked into Marinda’s round blue eyes. “Nathan will always remember us. In fact, I’m sure that he is looking forward to being with us again.”

Marinda nibbled on a warm molasses cookie and thought carefully about Mom’s words. “I know that he is with Heavenly Father,” she said at last, “but I want him to be my little brother now.” The cookie slipped from her fingers as she laid her head on her folded arms, her eyes brimming with tears.

It had been six months since Nathan died—six hard months for Marinda and all her family. Now the Christmas tree and the holiday music seemed to make things harder. Mom wiped her hands on her apron and sat beside her daughter. “Do you really believe that Heavenly Father loves us, Marinda?”

Marinda lifted her head and nodded. “Of course I do, Mom. I just wish He hadn’t let Nathan die. I wish we could be together like a family should be.”

“If we really believe that Heavenly Father loves us, we have to also believe that He does what is best for us, even when it makes us sad. We can be sure that He did what was best for Nathan. He even sent His Son so that we can be together again for eternity.”

Marinda’s face clouded up, and tears rolled down her cheeks. “I want Nathan to be with us this Christmas. I want to teach him Christmas carols. I want to help him decorate cookies. How can I do that when he isn’t here?”

Mom had tears in her own eyes as she hugged Marinda close and brushed a curl off her forehead. “Marinda, I know just how you feel. I want to be able to share things with Nathan, too. I feel very sad that he can’t live with us now.”

They sat quietly for a few minutes before Mom gently pulled Marinda’s face up and said, “I have an idea that might help all of us. Come to my room, and I’ll show you.”

They hurried upstairs. Mom opened the cedar chest and took out a pretty white box. Snuggled in tissue paper was the small red Christmas stocking that Mom had made for Nathan before he was born. Marinda had forgotten about it.

Mom stroked the stocking tenderly. “I didn’t quite know what to do with this after Nathan died, but you’ve given me a wonderful idea. …”

Marinda’s eyes lit up with excitement as Mom explained her plan. They decided to share it with the rest of the family at family home evening.

That evening, as everyone sat comfortably on the couch, Marinda began, “I’m glad that I am part of this family. I’m happy that we can be together forever. I love all of you, but I really miss Nathan. I want to be able to do things for him every day, but especially now, at Christmas. So from now on, Mom and I want to hang Nathan’s stocking with all of ours. Only his will be filled with something better than candy and toys.”

“That’s right.” Mom explained, “On Christmas Eve, we’ll each give him a gift—a note telling what we plan to do during the coming year to become more worthy of living with him in the Celestial Kingdom. And instead of putting Nathan’s stocking away after Christmas, we want to leave it hanging on the mantel. It will remind us every day of our gifts to him. Also,” she added with a wink, “we can look at our notes any time to check our progress or add something new.”

For a few seconds it was very quiet. Marinda noticed that everyone had tears in their eyes. Dad finally broke the silence. “That is a great idea! It will help all of us not only to remember Nathan but also to do our best so that we can be with him again. It’s really a gift to all of us.”

Marinda looked at her family. She loved them so much that she couldn’t even imagine being without them. And now she really felt that they were giving Nathan a gift. And that he was giving them one, too—a reason to work harder at doing what’s right.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Julie F. Young