Merry Christmas, Grandma and Grandpa, my two favorite missionaries!

Love, Abby

Abby underlined the word love as her brother, Zac, marched into the living room.

“What are you doing?” Zac asked as he peered over Abby’s shoulder.

“Finishing my Christmas card for Grandma and Grandpa. Are you done with yours?” Abby looked up at Zac as he dropped a fistful of crayons onto the table.

Zac shook his head. “I don’t really want to make a card for them.”

“Why?” Abby asked, surprised.

Zac shrugged. “I don’t know. It seems strange not having Grandma and Grandpa come to visit us. I miss hearing Grandpa’s great stories, and it doesn’t seem the same without Grandma serving her secret-recipe pumpkin pie.”

Abby nodded. “It’s been three months since Grandpa and Grandma left on their mission. We’ve never gone that long without seeing them. I miss them too.”

“I always thought if people loved you, they wouldn’t want to leave you.”

Abby glanced around the living room at the four red knit stockings hung on the mantelpiece, the garland strung around the kitchen doorway, and the colored lights blinking brightly on the Christmas tree. Suddenly her gaze became fixed on the Nativity scene placed on a small wooden table in the corner of the room.

“Come with me,” Abby said, gently tugging Zac’s sleeve. She led him over to the table. “Isn’t this beautiful?”

“Sure,” Zac said with a puzzled look on his face.

Abby carefully picked up two shepherd figures and three small white sheep from the manger scene. She set them on the floor beside her. “Zac, what if an angel hadn’t appeared to the shepherds, telling them Jesus was born?”

“Abby,” Zac said, upset, “the manger doesn’t look right without the shepherds and the sheep.”

“I know,” Abby said softly. “Help me put these back in place.”

She pressed the shepherds into his hands. “The shepherds knew about Jesus because somebody told them. But, Zac,” she said as he placed the shepherds close to the manger, “there are a lot of people who don’t know about Jesus.”

Zac was quiet as he ran his fingers over the top of the stable. “And Grandma and Grandpa are going to find them and teach them about Him.”

“That’s right. Think what a special Christmas this will be for the families Grandma and Grandpa are teaching the gospel to.”

“I still miss them,” Zac said, almost in a whisper.

“Me, too,” Abby agreed.

Zac scooped up his crayons. “See you later,” he said.

“Where are you going?” Abby asked.

“I have to make a Christmas card for Grandma and Grandpa.”

“Show it to me when you’re finished, OK?” Abby called as her brother disappeared around the corner. Her gaze returned to the Nativity scene. She smiled as she gently touched the small star above the manger. “Merry Christmas, Grandma and Grandpa.”

Photography by Jed Clark

Illustration by Mike Eagle