The Unwrapped Gift

by Sallie Rodmancover art 54280 The Unwrapped Gift Photo

“Mom,” came the frantic call from my teenage daughter’s bedroom, “Come here quick!”

I opened one eye, still tired from the last-minute details of Christmas Eve, and was on my feet just as Jennifer cried out again. Waves of dizziness struck me, almost knocking me back into bed. What was going on?

I managed to make it to my daughter and saw her sitting up, pale-faced and holding her stomach. She looked like I felt.

“What’s the matter, Jennifer?” I asked.

“Mom, I’ve got the stomach flu, and it’s Christmas!”

“Well, if it’s any consolation, I don’t feel so great myself.” And, with that, I ran to the bathroom. I lay on the cold tile and thought, Oh, God, why today of all days? Not today, Lord, not today.

By now, my husband, hearing all the commotion, was up preparing breakfast. He assumed our noisy hoopla was the excitement of Christmas morning. Popping his head into the bathroom he said, “Bacon and eggs are on when you’re ready.” A closer look and he discovered his faux pas and slipped quietly back out of the room.

Our other two children went to church with him while Jennifer and I moaned encouragement to each other across the hall. After an hour of this, I thought, This is silly . . . we certainly can’t catch anything from each other, so why not bunk together?

Jennifer came and got in our king-size bed with me. We spent the day talking, sucking ice chips and sleeping. When we were awake, we talked about boys, life at her new high school and friends she had made when she had changed schools midyear.

I told her how hard it was to be a working mother and still stay on top of all the family activities. I confessed that I had missed sharing with her lately, and we made a pact to spend more time together. We told each other secrets, giggled and laughed at our predicament. We became closer that day than we had been in a long time.

Many years have passed, and my daughter is grown with a husband and two children of her own. Yet not a Christmas goes by that one of us doesn’t say, “Remember the Christmas when . . . ?” We both laugh, knowing we received a gift that year better than any we found under the tree.