The Godsend

The Godsend

 

He tightened his grip on the old, canvas duffel as he struggled to stay on top of the wind-packed, drifted snow. Davey Christopher’s struggle wasn’t just with the snow, however. His heart was heavy with uncertainty and doubt. The duffel, itself, wasn’t heavy because he had packed light. Inside the gym bag, he had a neatly-folded small red blanket, a Baby Ruth candy bar, a small spiral notebook with a short pencil stored in the spiral, and his fuzzy, reddish brown, floppy-eared, toy doggy. He couldn’t run away from home without his best pal, Rusty.

Well, not really runnin’ away,” he thought. “Just lookin’ for the truth, and that just might take awhile.” He began to walk faster through the trees as he asked no-one but the cold air, “Why do people always lie? ‘Specially to little kids. Why?”

He needed answers, and he would find them if at all possible. “Rusty, I’m probably one of the best sleuths in Webster Falls, even if I’m only seven years old, well, seven going-on-eight. Mom and Daddy even call me Detective Davey!”

His favorite thing to do, his passion, was what he called sleuthing – gathering facts, finding clues, seeking the truth, using his intuition, solving mysteries. He thought of the gumshoes, sleuths, and detectives he had read about in books and seen on TV. There was Charlie Chan and his Number One Son, Lee Chan. There were Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Ellery Queen, Detective Joe Friday and his partner Frank from “Dragnet”, and the Hardy Boys – also named Frank and Joe. “That’s funny,” he giggled……………

What would Frank and Joe do about this? Well, they would follow their hunches and put a plan together and get to the bottom of things! We have a plan, don’t we, Rusty………” But the problem was daunting and, near tears, he began losing his determination.

Davey had found this shortcut through the woods on one of what he called his “explorations”. It was a couple miles from his family’s farm to the city of Webster Falls, which was, in fact, only a large town, but the early-afternoon sun felt exceptionally warm on his face, especially since tonight was Christmas Eve. “It’s usually pretty frosty this time of the year,” he thought. “Rusty, we are sure lucky that Daddy went to town to get cattle feed, and Mommy took Di to the grocery store. We were smart to pretend to be reading “The Purloined Letter”. That was the perfect cover for us goin’ to town in secret. That C. Auguste Dupin is a pretty smart detective, isn’t he Rusty? I know, Rusty, shuddup and get going, you’re right. We have a lot to do, and I want to be back home before dark, that is, if we can solve this case.”

He liked walking in the snow even if it were sometimes difficult to do. Snow was fun, and there was plenty to look at, too. His dad had taught him to track animals in the snow, something every worthwhile investigator should know. He could distinguish the roughly circular track of a dog from the more pointed track of a fox. He knew that the tracks of a raccoon kind of looked like small human hand prints and footprints. He spotted the tracks of a rabbit that ended abruptly under the wing marks of a big hawk. “Poor bunny!”

About halfway to the outskirts of the town, he broke through the crust and sank past his knees. It was extremely annoying when snow got into the tops of his four-buckle, black rubber boots because that made his socks, and shoes, and pantlegs, wet and cold. He found a log to sit on while he emptied his boots. “Boots. Great invention, Rusty. Grandma calls them galoshes and Mommy calls them overshoes, but I only wish they would figure out a way to keep the snow outa these things, whatever you wanna call them!”

Memories of all the reasons for this journey came back to haunt him. First of all, the “Santa Clause Problem” had surfaced a couple of weeks ago, when Bobby Musconi had pushed his face into the snow while yelling “Your stupid Santy ain’t gonna save you from this! Ha ha ha ha!” What a nuisance to have your glasses covered with snow and having to wipe them off before you can see. Around school, the kids who didn’t believe in Santa taunted and mocked those who did. Davey didn’t know what to think.

Smart-Sammy Brooks kept saying, “Santa Clause is just a lie concocted by the toy manufacturers and the department stores to enable them to sell more merchandise. He is not real, NOBODY lives at the North Pole, and reindeer can’t fly either!” Then, to top it all off, his friend Timmy Johnson took him into his dad’s closet, pulled out a large box, and showed him a red Santa suit complete with a white wig, a red Santa hat, a fake white beard, black boots, and a big black belt. “My Pop pretends to be Santa. Momma says he only does it to make us kids happy.” Evidence was pilin’ up, but it wasn’t quite enough proof for Davey. Not yet. Then there was the “Jesus Problem”. Some kids didn’t know the Christmas Story. Some, like Davey, knew the Christ-child was at the center of the holiday, but others mocked or simply ignored Him in favor of the presents and candy. But that was only a minor problem. It got worse. A lot worse………

^*^*^*^

Last evening, after supper, Davey The Detective was practicing stealth techniques while everyone thought he was in his room reading. He liked to be able to gather clues without being seen, so he crept along the space between the davenport and the wall under the windows to the end where the end table was. From that vantage point, he could see almost the whole room. Mom was playing “Songs of the Season” on the phonograph. The Christmas tree stood across the room, smelling great.

He looked through the two levels of the end table. The top level held the reading lamp. On the bottom level was the new Nativity scene that Mom had bought at Woolworth’s five and dime at a bargain price. It was made of wood, with the fine details on each piece carefully woodburned in. Then the pieces were oiled, waxed, hand-rubbed and polished into a satin finish. It was really neat-o except for one thing. The baby was missing. That’s why it was a bargain. But Mom found a porcelain baby Jesus that fit into the manger and everything was okay. “Just doesn’t look quite right, though,” Davey thought.

Like he had learned a successful inspector should, he made mental notes about how everything in the room looked. The ornaments, the lights, the room decorations, the colors, shapes, and textures of Christmas were all so wonderful! He loved Christmas – he just loved everything about it. He also knew where most of the presents were hidden, and knew what half of them were. He was that good.

Or that bad?” With a twinge of conscience, he laughed to himself.

Soon, he heard his parents talking in the kitchen while they washed the supper dishes, so he decided to try some eavesdropping skills. In mystery novels, listening to conversations was a valuable way to get information, kinda like questioning a witness without him knowing it. “I just want the facts,” like Joe Friday says. He edged a little closer to the kitchen door to try to hear what they were saying despite “Songs of the Season” competing in the background.

Do you think it’s time to tell him?” Asked his mother.

He sure is inquisitive, and he’s smart,” said his father. “It wouldn’t be good if he found out some other way.”

But he’s so young, and so sensitive too, dear, I just don’t know. I’m worried about how he might take it.”

Davey was certain they were talking about Santa Clause. It was starting to sound too much as though the whole Santa story was made up after all. “Just a big fat lie,” he sighed to himself……….

Maybe we should just wait until after Christmas to talk to him, you know, kind of ease into it, do it gently,” suggested Daddy.

Then Mommy said, “Maybe so, and with a lot of love and understanding. “It could be confusing to him for awhile, honey, to know he’s adopted…….”

He felt his face flush. What did she say? Maybe the music was too loud……., but he was sure he had heard clearly. Adopted. And they were saying something else……..

Daveeeeyyy, whatcha doin’, spyin’?” He jumped and hit his head on the window sill. It was Dianne.

Shhhhh, come on, hurry!” He crawled out, grabbed her hand, and pulled her to his room as he rubbed his head with his free hand. Bribing her with a Hershey’s Kiss always worked to take her mind off discovering him as he sleuthed. It usually kept him from getting tattled on. She was almost five, but was pretty easy to handle. “Now go to your room and enjoy your candy,” he persuaded gently, and closed his door behind her.

Alone in his room, he began to cry as he lay on his bed with his face on Rusty. A sudden deluge of dismaying thoughts threatened to overwhelm him. “Adopted? Doesn’t that mean they aren’t my REAL mommy and daddy? Have they been lying to me my whole life? Whyyyyy? Did my real mommy and daddy hate me? Who am I, really? Sometimes I wondered why I look a little different than they do, even Di. But they had acted like nothing was amiss. Don’t they like me? They seem like they do, but……”

He didn’t know what he felt. Double-crossed? Hoodwinked? Fooled? Mistrusted? Kept in the dark about crucial information concerning his own life? He moaned when he realized what the bullies at school would do with this if they found out.

Santy Clause, a lie? Davey Christopher, a lie? Is Christmas a lie too? Just another nice story for fun between Thanksgiving and New Years Day? Is God just a made-up story? Jesus has to be real, he just has to. Ohhh, Baby Jesus, what shall I do? What shall I do?………………….

^*^*^*^

After awhile, his practical side surfaced, and he began to formulate a plan. “Davy Crocket said ‘Be sure that you are right, then go ahead.’” His mind wandered to his name. He was pleased with his nickname when he thought of the famous Davy Crocket, even though the two names were spelled a little differently. His parents had wanted his nickname to look slightly different from that of the other Davids and Davys because he was unique. A disturbing thought suddenly occurred to him. “Is David or Davey even my real name? I have to find out. That’s what I have to do – make sure I’m right before I can go ahead and decide what to do about this. I need to find the facts. I need to know the truth. Charlie Chan would agree. They all would.”

Detective Davey stayed awake most of the night working on the detective case of his life. At four a.m., he whispered almost inaudibly, “God, if you are real, please, please let me know. Please show me. Right now I just need answers. I need evidence. Some people say you are imaginary. Other people say you are really smart. Just in case you are real, and you are listening, I will still say my prayer.” Then he did pray, just as his mother had taught him. Just as he had prayed every night:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
Lord, stay with me in the dark of night
And keep me safe ’til morning’s light.
God bless Mommy and Daddy and Di
And Grandma” …… “and Rusty, hehe.”

Amen”

^*^*^*^

Okay, Rusty, all done, we have to go. We gotta get to that courthouse fast. That’s where the Hardy Brothers would look for birth records. A couple of miles sure is a lot farther on foot than it is in a car, isn’t it, Rusty?” It’s difficult to run in four-buckle boots, but he did his best, and there was no more sinking past his knees.

When he reached the downtown area, he followed the back streets in order to avoid being seen. Finding the back door of the courthouse, he found that it was locked, then he noticed a sign handwritten on yellow legal paper and taped on the door with Scotch tape: COURTHOUSE CLOSED AT NOON ON CHRISTMAS EVE DAY. “Well, that’s that, Rusty,” he said dejectedly. What do we do now?……..” He sat on the nearby gas meter to think.

Wait, sometimes gumshoes find records at the library! Hope it’s open, let’s go!”

The City Library was only three blocks away, and it was open. Davey found a table in the microfilm area, took off his thick, brown, plaid coat, put Rusty on the table, and began reading what he had written in his spiral notebook during the night:

Case #1- Find out if I’m rilly addopted.
If yes, who am I rilly?
Wat is my name? 1. Davey 2. Sumpthin else.
Is my birthday reel, or made up?
Did my reel momy and daddy hate me?
If yes, wat did I do for them to?

Case #2-Find out if Santa Clas is reel, or jist a made up story.
If he is reel, is he magic?
Are his rain deers magic?
Dose he live at the North Pole with Elvs?
Who are those helperses and how dose he comunickate with them?
And alot more qestchuns I got………

Case #3-If cases #1 and #2 are madeup lies, then Crismas must be a lie too.
What does Santy have to do with Crismas, in the first place?
Is God reel? Is Jesus God’s son? Is Jesus reel?
Is Jesuses birthday reel or made up?
The bible says not to lie, but right now everthing looks like a lie to me.
I am sorry I said that God if you rilly are reel. Amen

His eyes were filled with tears, but he had a determined look on his face. “Let’s get started,” and he began searching through the microfilm catalogs. “I’m glad my teacher, Miss Rockhouse, showed me how to do this last year, Rusty.” Rusty just stared at the catalogs…… for a long time……

Eventually one of the librarians asked him if he knew what he was doing.

Yes, ma’am, thank you,” he replied.

I’ll be over there at my desk if you need help,” she informed him.

Soon, he spoke excitedly to Rusty, “Here’s something!” He retrieved the correct microfilm canister and loaded it into the reader. It was an article from the “Webster Falls Journal” dated over five years ago, tucked away in the last page ‘Announcements’ section:

Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Christopher happily announce the adoption of their new son, David Christopher. They wish to thank everyone for their support and their prayers.”

That’s it! So, I am adopted! I was about two years old, and it says they were happy about it, so why all the secrecy? And my real name is David! That’s short for Davey! Maybe I should give them the “benefit of the doubt”, like they say on Dragnet, until I have all the facts. Even my real folks? Yup, even them……..Quit starin’ Rusty!”

He persevered with his search. He looked and looked, but couldn’t find anything else about himself. “A whole afternoon and I only solved two questions from Case Number One. We had better get home before it gets dark, boy,” he said to his doggy. “Glad we left a note, so Mommy won’t worry if she comes home and we aren’t there.”

He put the notebook and pencil, and Rusty, into his duffel bag, put on his coat and cap – he had the kind with the furry earflaps – and headed down the sidewalk towards the woods on the north side of town. He was eager to get home, in a way, and in another way, not. Things seemed different now. Strange. Uncertain. Confusing. But Mom was going to make a pizza-pie as she had been every Saturday night for awhile.

No exceptions for Christmas Eve,” Daddy had said, grinning.

And afterward, eggnog!” he thought. “Maybe Dad will make popcorn! And maybe I could have a little ice cream while watching the choirs sing on TV.”

Better take the alley, just in case the folks or some of their friends are around,” he thought. So he headed south for a few blocks because that was the only way to access the alley that went north behind all the stores. Once in the alley, he passed behind J.C. Penny, Kresge’s, Central Drugstore, the candy store, the hardware store, and up ahead was his favorite, Woolworth’s Five and Ten Cent Store. He laughed every time Daddy called it “the five and dime”, and giggled when Grandma called it “the dime store”. They had everything there, even Santa. Mommy and Daddy had taken him to sit on Santa’s lap last year, but he hadn’t wanted to.

Santa! A Santa’s helper, maybe? We could work on Case Number Two, Rusty. We still have plenty of time before sundown.” He walked up the steps of the loading dock and looked both ways. Nobody around. There were all kinds of boxes and packing crates in a big pile with only excelsior in them. He went to the large, steel back door and pulled on it. It wasn’t latched but was held shut by a stout spring. After peeking in, he whispered, “The coast is clear.” He pulled hard and squeezed inside. Stealthily passing some dark, empty storerooms, he could see the brightly-lit, colorful main area of the store through a wide doorway. Just inside the door, the Santa guy sat on a big chair like a throne with a line of kids and parents in front of it, and a kid sitting on his lap.

He sure looks real, for just a helper.” Staying out of sight behind some boxes, he sat looking on a diagonal through the door and could see Santa from the side. “Shhhh, Rusty, lets observe him for awhile. Sherlock liked observation, so we should observe.” He reached into his gym bag and pulled out the candy bar and the notepad. After quietly unwrapping the Baby Ruth, and taking a few bites, he jotted down some notes in the dim light:

1. Reelistic hair and a thick beerd. Nice glassis, round, metl rimd like mine.
2. Ahthennic red suit and boots.
3. Nice voice and good laff, HoHoHo.
4. Smiles and is nice to kids.
5. Jolley and round, looks rite.
6. Cant tell if he is an impaster or not.

He watched as a chubby little boy with a runny nose climbed up on Santa’s lap. After finding out his name, Santy asked, “What would you like for Christmas, Mikey?” At that point, Mikey’s head leaned back and then snapped forward as he sneezed a large gob of yellow snot right on Santa’s cheek. Mom had told Davey that he should call that “mucous”, but there was a difference. This was some serious snot! Without losing his smile or his composure, the old man calmly reached over the side of the big chair, snatched up a Kleenex, quickly wiped away the encroaching glob, and went right on like nothing nasty had happened.

Talk about The Chans’ grace under fire!” Davey thought.

After observing several more boys’ and girls’ encounters with the Santa person, Davey began to yawn………………………

^*^*^*^

As Sarah Christopher and Dianne walked into the house, they had seen that Daddy was finishing unloading feed from his truck. She put the groceries on the counter and found the note her son had left there:

Momy Im taking Rusty trakking in the woods. Be back sune.

Soon, Wayne came in from doing the chores, and she asked him, “Honey, did you see Davey outside? He left this note. That youngster! I told him to stay in the house, too!”

Hmmm, no I didn’t,” he said, looking over her shoulder, “His spelling hasn’t improved, has it? That boy can do ninth grade math, and his ability to think logically is just amazing. He can memorize anything, but he can’t spell worth a darn,” he grinned.

His poor little head has been through a lot, dear. He is a miracle in so many ways. His vocabulary is so extensive that we can talk to him like he’s a young man.”

A miracle. That he is, sweetie, that he is. Seven going on seventeen in some ways. I’ll go look for him. I know the trail he likes to follow and the snow is fairly fresh for easy tracking.”

^*^*^*^

The next thing, Davey was aware of was a large form standing over him saying, “Well, well, well, what do we have here, a secret admirer?”

Davey had been asleep with his head on the duffel. Startled and embarrassed, he quickly sat up. The lights in the store were dimmed. Everyone was gone, except for the Santa and a few store workers.

We just closed a little early for Christmas Eve, my boy. Ho Ho Ho, were you waiting to see me privately, son?”

Ummm, errr, wellll, yeah, I guess.”

Lets get you out of here before you get caught. Come with me to where we can talk.”

Davey gathered his things and followed the red-suited man toward the back door, then they turned, walked down a hallway, turned again, and entered a room he recognized as a “boiler room”. The only other boiler room he had seen was the one at Daniel Webster Elementary, where he went to school.

It’s kinda scary in here…..” Davy said hesitantly.

Turning to face Davey, the man said, “It’s not so bad once you get used to it. The store manager lets me stay back here while I’m working at the store as long as I help the janitor keep coal in the boiler and take out the cinders. Too bad this is my last night here. Now, is your business Santa business, or ordinary guy business? I call myself Nick, by the way, Nick Smith,” he offered his hand. Davey took it with a firm grip like his daddy had showed him.

I’m Davey. I’m just trying to find the facts. Lookin’ for the truth, you know?”

Yes, I think I know what you mean. Been there myself, you know. Do you mind if I change out of these clothes?”

No, that’s okay.”

From behind the boiler, Nick was saying, “You see, Davey, I’m a transient – that’s a traveler, you know – I don’t have a home of my own, but every year, from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, this store is my home. It just seems right to me. I don’t have any family, so the people of this community are my family.” He stepped out from behind the hot boiler wearing a red flannel shirt, blue jeans, and work boots. “The big red bag he carried must contain his Santa suit,” Davey assumed.

Mr. Smith,” Davey began abruptly, “Are you a helper of Santa Clause, or is it all a lie? The whole thing just doesn’t make sense. It’s not logical, and if he is real, he must be magic, or some kind of wizard, unless it’s all a conspiracy to make people buy more presents for kids, and how can he live at the North Pole, and have a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, and visit every home in the world in one night, and be worshiped like a god to lotsa people, and if Santa is a lie, then God must be a lie too, because Christmas just doesn’t seem logical sometimes, and I’m adopted, and my parents never told me, and that’s a lie too, and I’m a good detective but I just can’t find any answers and I can’t find out the real truth, and………”

Whoaaaa, my young friend. I can see you have a lot bothering you and maybe I can help. You like Nesbitt’s Orange pop?”

Yes, Mr. Smith, sir.”

I have some. Dry those tears and come on, and call me Nick, okay?” Nick led Davey around the boiler to a small room with a cot against one wall, an old overstuffed chair in the corner, an even older rattling refrigerator, and a small, linoleum-covered kitchen table with two chairs. Above the cot, hung a picture of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in front of an American flag. He withdrew two orange sodas from the fridge, opened them, and they sat facing each other at the table. Davey noticed that Nick’s thick white hair was real. Nicely combed. His white beard was surprisingly nice and thick and not too long. Kind blue eyes, nice teeth, good smile.

Tell me about yourself, son. What’s been going on?”

Davey then told him all about his family and the things that had been happening to him in the past few weeks. He told him about sleuthing and what he had overheard last night. Nick was a good listener. He seemed like someone he could trust, so he showed him his detective case list, talked about all his sleuth-heroes and showed him his duffel bag. He also introduced Nick to his best buddy. Nick listened intently, nodding occasionally.

That’s quite a story, young man, I can understand why you’re upset. I have one too, and I’d like to share it with you, would you like that? I think you might find some answers of your own when you hear it.”

Yes, sir, I sure would!” He took a swig of pop and opened his notebook.

I fought in The Big War even though I was kind of old,” he began, “seems I had some special skills in arithmetic that they needed, maybe some kind of code-breaking deal, I can’t remember the details. Long story short, I was on one of the South Pacific Islands and was captured by the Japs along with some soldiers in my unit. We fought like demons, but there were too many of them. Can’t remember those details either. Must have been hit in the head pretty hard because I don’t have much recollection of anything. Just had a huge goose-egg and a wicked headache for a long time. Don’t even know my own real name. Don’t know what happened to the Japs. I do remember having some dreams about a young man. I had the impression maybe he was my son. He was just standing there at attention, in uniform, saluting. He must have done something especially brave because he was wearing a beautiful Cross Medal. It’s probably just wishful thinking that I have a son somewhere, but those images always seemed so real.

Many months must have passed, but I was found eventually by U.S. Navy men. I was the only one left. No dog tags. I was starving, sick, and almost dead. Don’t know how I survived except by the grace of God. Nobody could figure out who I was because I had been on a secret mission, I think, and the records had been destroyed. On the trip back to the States, a chaplain gave me a Bible and talked to me about God. He said, “God knows exactly who you are and you are extremely special to Him. He loves you more than you can know.” It was like finding something great that I had never known. I never had thought of God much. I didn’t know anything about Him, but the chaplain and I prayed for my healing. I got better fast. Then I saw miracle after miracle – they are happening all the time if you have a mind to see them. I got to know my Lord and Savior, Jesus. The Christmas story came alive and became very special to me. I knew Jesus was “Emmanuel, God With Us”, and that he had died to save me into everlasting life with Him in Heaven. In all the years I’ve known them, the Heavenly Father, the Son of Man, and His Holy Spirit have never lied to me. You can trust Him, Davey – the One God in three persons. I know these things as certainly as I’m sitting here talking with you. I don’t even know my own real name, but I do know that, Davey,” he smiled.

Wowww,” Davey whispered as he continued taking notes.

Bad things happen to all of us, son, but God is with us through it all. He has a plan for each of our lives. He wants what is best for each of His children. Everything is interconnected. The Bible says that all things work together for the good of those who love God. He has a purpose and a plan for my life and for yours, Davey, we only have to trust His Word ………

So that’s the answer to your most important question. Yes, Davey, God is real. Jesus is His son. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, sent from Heaven to live in us once we make Jesus the center of our lives. Now that you have heard this great news, I hope and pray that this belief, this faith, will grow in you from now on and that you will seek the Lord with all your heart. It is so important that you do”…………

Mr. Nick, once, at Sunday school, my teacher said: ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen!’ I need that substance, Mr. Nick. Evidence of something I can’t see is the thing I’m always lookin’ for. I didn’t understand that before, but I think I do now. It’s faith. You are a great witness for my Case Number Three. Mr. Nick, do you think God is mad at me for thinking maybe He isn’t real?”

Not in the least. He loves you! He wants you to call Him your Heavenly Father and Jesus is His son and a part of Him. Their words are in the Bible. It is their love letter to us. Are you beginning to understand these things, Detective Davey?”

Yes, sir,” he looked up from his notes ……………….. “Mr. Nick do you think God sends somebody to help you when you ask for answers? ‘Cause last night I asked Him for help when I was not so sure He was real, and it seems like He sent you to me.”

I know He does, just like He sent me that navy chaplain. The thing is I told God that I’m available whenever someone needs me. I always ask Him to show me how I can be of service to Him. Why, just last night I asked that He put someone in front of me who needs some good news, someone special like you, Davey!” he smiled.

From now on, Case Number One will be to seek the Lord with all my heart.”

That’s the stuff, my young friend………….But now I’m a little worried about your folks. Do they know where you are? The sun went down a few minutes ago. Are you AWOL, private?”

Yikes! I left them a note tellin’ ’em that I would be back by dark, which was kind of a lie, on account of I was gonna stay in the city until I found all the answers to why they lied.”

You’re a brave boy, but I don’t think you realize what dangers you’re getting yourself into. It gets real cold in the alleys at night, for one thing. Your little blanket isn’t enough. We had better get you home, Davey.”

Yes, sir, I guess you’re right. I’m gonna be in big trouble, now. And on Christmas Eve, too. Thanks for the pop, Mr. Nick, and thanks for tellin’ me your great story, ‘specially about God.” Good luck on your travels.”

Not so fast. You’re not getting rid of me that easy. Ho, Ho, Ho! I feel responsible for you now, talkin’ your ear off and all. We should call your folks and have them come and get you. Let’s go to the sales desk, there’s a telephone there.”

Well, okay……”

After trying three times and getting no answer, Nick said, “I guess we will have to walk. Do you know the shortest way?”

Yes, but it is about two miles, through the woods. That’s how I got here.” “We need to go straight north from here.”

Okay then, bundle up, kiddo, buckle up your boots and grab your bag.”

The streets were nearly empty after they left the alley. Main street was beautiful with festive lights and decorations all along the storefronts. There was a Christmas tree made of green garland on each street-light pole. Each tree was adorned with sparkly garland and colored lights. As they paused and took in the sight, Davey stated, “Each tree has about twelve lights. There are seventeen trees on each side, and thirty-four total. Twelve times thirty-four is four-hundred-and-eight lights, on the average!” He looked up and smiled.

Let me think,” Nick paused, “You’re exactly right! How did you do that so fast?” Nick looked at him in astonishment.

I don’t know!” giggled Davey.

As they walked toward the woods, Nick looked down at the boy and said, “I just had a thought, Davey. It’s not such a bad thing to be adopted. I didn’t know that I, myself, was adopted either until I read Galatians 4:5. That is a verse from the Bible written by the Apostle Paul. It says that Jesus was sent in order to redeem us so that God would be able to adopt us as His children. I’ve heard that, at the time that was written, when a Roman man adopted a boy, the boy was given the full rights of a natural born son. Not only that, but a natural born son could be kicked out of the family, but an adopted son could not! Just think of it! That’s some pretty serious stuff. So it’s not so bad to be adopted, especially when you’re adopted by the Highest King, Himself. Really like it, myself,” he grinned.

Wowee, now that you put it that way……….. Thanks, Mr. Nick, that helps. It still bothers me that they kept it secret, though.”

Son, it is not easy being a parent. Maybe they were waiting for just the right time to tell you about something so special.”

So, you don’t think they changed my birthday, or my name?” And why do you think my real folks hated me and gave me away?”

I don’t think hate had anything to do with it. They may have done it out of pure love. Anyway, your name is Davey. Davey Christopher. You told me that yourself, so it must be your name. Ha Ha Ha! As for your first folks, you may never get to know anything about them, but don’t jump to conclusions. I doubt that anyone could hate you, my friend. I think you should go to your mom and dad, they are your real folks, by the way. They take good care of you and keep you safe and love you very much, isn’t that right? You need to come clean. Tell them you’re sorry for spying on them, ask their forgiveness and then ask them if you’re actually adopted. I’m pretty sure they will be glad to tell you everything they know about it. How’s that sound to you?”

It makes sense when you say it. Thanks for clearin’ that up, Mr. Nick,” Davey looked up and grinned, “Case Number One, is solved!”

^*^*^*^

At the edge of the woods where Davey’s tracks emerged, they could see his trail by the dim light of the rising moon, which was almost full and looked like a huge orange.

Do you think we can make it without getting lost?” Nick asked.

I think so if we just follow my tracks and head pretty much northwest. There’s the North Star!”

Ahhh, the star! Let’s go! O’ holy nighhhht, the stars are brightly shiiiining”…………………….

^*^*^*^

Is he back?” I lost his trail in the dark.”

No, dear. I’m worried. I called the neighbors and his best friends’ houses, and nobody has seen him.”

It looks like he might have been headed for town. I hope he’s not on one of his spur-of-the-moment sleuthin’ cases.” Let’s get Di bundled up and drive to town. We may have to see the police.”……………

^*^*^*^

How’re ya doing, Davey?” Nick asked, taking a break between Christmas carols.

I’m a little tired of walking, Mr. Nick.” They had been walking briskly through the woods for the span of five complete songs. Davey knew all the words, so far. The moon was turning white. It was getting easier to see the trail. It was also getting colder. “Aren’t you getting cold without a coat, Mr. Nick?”

Walking makes me warm, but thank you for asking. I have an idea. Jump up on my back and I’ll give you a piggyback ride.” That worked well, except that it became more difficult for Nick to stay on top of the crusty snow. Davey listened while Nick talked about an abundance of fascinating things. Among them was the subject of Santa Clause….

You probably wonder why I act the part of Santa every year. One reason I do it is to keep his memory, his tradition, alive. He is real but only in a special sense, son. Hear me out. Some things can’t be seen, but that don’t mean they aren’t real, Davey. You should read the old newspaper editorial “Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Clause”. My favorite part is when it says “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love, and generosity, and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.” The way I look at it is that Santa Clause is a symbol of unconditional giving. No conditions, no catches. Like when God gave His only son to the people of the world. The world has made a legend of Santa and given him various names and fabricated some pretty crazy stories about him, but he is based on a real guy, Saint Nicholas. The trouble comes when people get mixed up and make him out to be real live guy instead of a legend. He only represents the spirit of something truly special. The spirit of something means how something really is whether you can see it or not. It is the true meaning, or the intent, or the purpose of something, and, in the case of Christmas, that spirit is a very, very, good thing. People should explain that to their kids instead of making up stories and, yes, lying about it to smart kids like yourself. Santa Clause is a metaphor for generosity and love toward little children. A metaphor is sort of a comparison, Davey. It explains something you can’t see or touch by telling a story about something you can see and touch. Santa is a spirit, and we helpers are the embodiment of that spirit, like on television when a ghost materializes. Santa represents some of the basic truths found in the birth of Christ Jesus, like the love of people, like kindness, and like gifts being given. And, Santa is fun! I like to represent his spirit and make kids happy at Christmas time. He represents the spirit of Christmas which is also the spirit of unconditional giving out of unconditional love. Davey, unconditional means that there are no qualifications, and nothing you have to do to get God’s generosity, except to believe in His son. And did you know that I say a prayer for each one of those kids that come to me, that they will come to know the incredible truth of the story of Christ’s birth and then come to know Jesus, himself? The Good News of Jesus’ birth and why He came to Earth is the true meaning of Christmas. To have a Santa figure like myself who tells children the Good News of Christmas is valuable to God. I point away from my Santa-looking self and right toward Him. That is the mission He gave me. That is my Christmas gift! HoHoHoHoHo! Hey, I really got going there, didn’t I, Davey boy! Sometimes I think I should have been a preacher. I’m sorry if all my big words confuse you, but I do hope you remember some of that! Ho Ho Ho! Ha Ha Ha!

Oh my gosh, Sant – I mean Mr. Nick! I will remember all of it! You would make a great preacher. People always underestimate me, but I make mental notes. You just solved Case Number Two and tied it to Case Number Three! Hahahahaha! Thank you, Mr. Nick, thank you!”

Just thank the One who brought us together, my friend.”

I will. And I really do believe God brought me to you, …… somehow.”……………….

^*^*^*^

I’m so afraid for him,” Sarah Christopher said to herself and to Dianne.

The police sergeant said the whole force would do all they could to find him. Daddy is with two officers, searching the city. We have to stay here so that if he comes home he won’t be alone. I pray, dear Lord, that you stay with Davey and keep him safe and bring him home very soon, Lord. Amen……………………”

^*^*^*^

I think we’re almost there,” Davey proclaimed.

I sure wish I had my old Harley right now,” Nick laughed. After I got back to the States, I bought a Harley Davidson motorcycle and traveled all over the country. There was something special that happened to me every time I looked at that name in chrome on the side of my purple gas tank. Kinda like I was home. But I had to give it up. Hitchhiking is better for meeting folks, anyway. Cheaper too!……… I love all the mystery in life, Davey. I know you like to solve mysteries, but there are so many that seem unsolvable that we will just have to ask God about them when we go to live with Him. Keep Jesus in your heart, son, so that we can live together in Heaven some day, OK?”

I’ll try, sir.”

Once we get to your house, I’ll have to turn around and go right back. I want to go to the late Christmas Eve service at the Methodist Church, and maybe Midnight Mass at the Catholic Church. Then, I’ll sleep one more night in my cot at Woolworth’s and hit the road first thing in the morning. I hope there will be a few people traveling tomorrow to pick me up and haul these old bones south for the winter. Ha Ha Ha!”

Won’t you stay and have some pizza-pie with us? We always have plenty. And I need you around to tell my folks why I’m so late!” he smiled a little, worried smile.

Ahhh, thanks, my friend, but I need to get back to my work. There may be some children in town who would like to hear the real story of Christmas. The whole world needs to hear it!” He smiled his winning smile. “And don’t worry about your folks. They will be real glad to see you! I’m certain that they love you more than you even know!”

Here’s our farmyard, Mr. Nick,” he dropped down from the big-man’s back. “I’m sure going to miss you,” he said, on the verge of tears.

Next year, God willing, we can spend more time together. You know where I’ll be the day after Thanksgiving! It was so nice to meet you, Davey boy. A joy to spend the evening with you. Oh, by the way, I have something for you. I found this little trinket a few days ago when I was getting coal out by the loading dock. I’ve been waiting for the right person to come along to give this to, and you’re him!” He pulled a small package from his pocket and handed it to the boy. It was wrapped with paper that had Santa faces on it. “Don’t open it until Christmas!” he laughed. He then dropped to one knee and held his arms wide. “How’s about a big hug for old saint Nick?”

Davey wrapped his arms around Nick’s neck and put his face against his beard-covered cheek. He could feel a warm tear touch his own cheek and began to cry. “I don’t want you to go, Mr. Nick….”

I don’t want to go either, Davey, but how can I come back if I don’t go?” he said softly, wiping away a tear. “Now you be good and have a merry Christmas! Always look for the signs and wonders that God provides us to show that He is near. Remember the things we talked about and think about them. Keep me in your prayers. Good night, son!” And with that, he turned and jogged away through the snow until the trees and the moonlit snow were all Davey could see.

^*^*^*^

Davey!” his mother exclaimed as he entered the kitchen door. “Where on earth have you been? Why are you so late? Why were you out in the dark? Are you alright? Why do you have your duffel bag? We were so afraid you were lost or that something happened to you.” She almost smothered him with a tight mommy hug. Then Di joined in, saying “Big bruver, big bruver.”

Where’s Daddy?” he tried to change the subject.

He’s with the police, looking for you! Ohmagosh, I need to call the station and tell them you’re back, safe and sound!” Then she did that very thing, and Davey wanted to hide because he realized he was in more trouble than he had thought. By the time his dad got home, delivered by a police car, no less, Davey was lying on his bed. He could smell the pizza-pie baking in the oven.

Boy, Rusty, we are in hot water, but Mommy isn’t yellin’, so maybe it will be a normal Christmas Eve after all.” Rusty just stared as if to say, “We?” Davey wondered if he would ever feel normal again. So much to think about. So much to wonder about. It seemed as though every question answered brought up ten more. Dad burst in.

I’m sure glad to see you, son, you gave us a worry or two tonight.”

A big, welcome, daddy bear hug ensued, after which Davey said, “I know, Dad. I’m really sorry. Can I tell you and Mommy all about it after supper? It’s a long story and I’m sure hungry for that pizza-pie, and it’s no big deal. The Santa at Woolworth’s brought me home. He carried me piggyback most of the way. His name is Nick and he’s real smart, and real nice, and he told me about Santa Clause and about God and lotsa neat stuff. Amazing stuff, but no big deal, honest!”

Sounds good to me, can’t wait to hear it,” Wayne said so patiently that it worried Davey. “I think supper’s almost ready. Get washed up, son.” What he was really thinking was “Woolworth’s? Stranger? God? Amazing stuff? Yes it is a big deal!”

^*^*^*^

Christmas Eve supper was fun and pretty normal, some wondering stares from the adults and many questions from Di notwithstanding. “More Songs of the Season” was playing on the record player. The lights on the tree were flashing. The food was great. Dessert was decorated Christmas cookies with a big cup of egg nog. All was right with the world ……except for the things Davey had to tell his parents. He didn’t want to, but Nick had said it would be alright, and he trusted Nick’s advice.

With Di playing in her room and his parents sitting on the couch, Davey sat between them and didn’t know how to begin. “I don’t know how to start,” he said hesitantly.

Just figure out what started all this, and begin there,” Dad suggested.

Okay. Well…….,” he began hesitantly, “Last night I was sleuthin’ behind the couch and I heard you talkin’ about tellin’ me Santa wasn’t real, but you weren’t talkin’ about that, you were talkin about me bein’ adopted, and it scared me that everything I believed about the facts, and the real truth, was a lie about Santa and about Christmas, and about Jesus bein’ born, and about God, and about myself, and, and I’m so sorry I tried to sort of run away and find out the truth,” he began to sob. “Will you please forgive me? ……….. I guess I’m really adopted, huh?”

His dismayed and slightly embarrassed parents communicated volumes to each other with a long look, then they hugged Davey tightly. “Yes, honey”, his mother said soothingly, “we wanted to wait until the best time, when you were old enough, to explain that special thing to you to prevent the possibility of you misunderstanding, or getting upset, or getting confused about your adoption. Waiting didn’t work out the way we hoped. Of course we forgive you. We are the ones who let you down, Davey. When we adopted you, we chose you to be our baby boy because we loved you from the beginning. Never forget that. We believe that God meant us to be your mommy and daddy because He loves you too, and you needed us. We needed you too. Can you kind of understand that, Davey?”

Yes, Mom. Nick helped me with it.”

Who is Nick?” they asked in unison, so Davey told them the whole story, in all the detail befitting a thorough detective, from packing his duffel to bidding “saint Nick” goodbye. Then he showed them his gift from Nick and placed it under the tree.

They listened in rapt astonishment, amazed that their son had found the adoption announcement that they had forgotten about. Then Davey’s mother said, “We have a story to tell you too. It starts out sadly but ends very happily.”

^*^*^*^

It was over six years ago that we met you,” Sarah began. “We were driving east on Highway 20 going to a basketball game, when the car that was about two hundred yards ahead of us put on the brakes hard. It was snowing lightly, and there were patches of ice on the pavement. Pretty normal for this part of the country in November. Then we saw why the car was braking. A large stag was standing in the road right in front of it. The driver was on a patch of ice and managed to do a controlled skid so that the driver’s side of the car smashed into the deer instead of the car hitting it head on. The stag went flying on impact and the car went over the right embankment which was quite steep. This part is hard to tell. Will you do it, honey?” Mom said, and from then on they took turns telling the whole story…….

We pulled over on the shoulder, grabbed our flashlight, and half slid down the embankment to where the car had landed. It had rolled over on the way down and was on its top, lodged against a tree. It looked pretty bad. The woman on the passenger side had been thrown out. She wasn’t moving.

I crawled in through the broken passenger window and found the driver unconscious, sitting on the headliner. There was something moving under his overcoat, so I opened it, and a baby fell out right into my arms. It was you! Your daddy had wrapped you up under his coat next to his chest to keep you warm. You didn’t cry even though you had quite a red bruise on your forehead. I yelled to your mom to climb back up the embankment and flag down anyone who could go to town for help. I was so proud of you, dear, and you had help there in short order.” Davey’s eyes opened wide in a combination of surprised concern, wonder, and suspense.

That was because two cars behind us had seen what happened and one went back to Webster Falls to get police and an ambulance. We left the other driver with your folks and drove you right to City General to have a doctor take care of you. Your daddy and mommy came a bit later in the ambulance and went right to the emergency room. Davey, your mother didn’t make it,” she held him as he tried to hold back the tears. “We stayed by your bed in the pediatrics ward because they wanted to observe you for possible concussion. You seemed okay, but they wanted to make sure that your head trauma wasn’t serious. We found out that babies really have tough heads! And when your father was put into a room of his own, Daddy went to see him. He was weak and sedated but conscious. The doctors hadn’t told him about his wife, whose name was Hannah. They said she was sleeping in another room, which wasn’t too far from the truth. He said his name was Jim. He thanked Daddy for rescuing them. Then he asked about you and we told him that you were fine, and we and the nurses were watching out for you. We reassured him that we wouldn’t leave you and that comforted him. He wanted to talk.”

We’re moving out East, he said slowly. We were tryin’ to get to our new house before the moving van got there. I saw a huge buck in the road, and he wasn’t movin’. Couldn’t do nothing but throw it into a skid and try to hit him on the driver’s side to protect my family. The wife crashed into me, and I crashed into the window. David was between us. We woulda been okay but we went over that embankment. I thought we would never stop rollin’. When we stopped, my wife wasn’t in the car anymore, and David was whimperin’ so I tried to wrap him up in my coat next to my chest and that’s the last thing I remember………. I fought a whole squad of Krauts in France and one lousy deer takes me out. Dammit! Excuse my French…….”

Because your daddy here fought in Germany, and Jim, your father, fought in France, they found a lot to talk about. Soldiers don’t seem to like talking about the war except with other soldiers. He told Daddy he knew his wife was gone. After an hour or so, the doctor said it would be alright to let the nurse take you to your father. Outside his room, we could hear him talking to you and sobbing while he held you. You cried a little too. Then the nurse took you back to the nursery and kept a close eye on you while we talked with your father. He and your mother loved you more than anything, Davey. You were their precious treasure………..”

He told us that he was the last of his family line. He had no brothers or sisters. His father had been killed in the war and his mother had passed away. His wife had been Jewish, and her whole family had been killed in the prison camps in Europe. They simply had no family left. As the night wore on he got worse. Something was wrong inside of him. He had to have exploratory surgery. While they prepared for the surgery, he told us that he felt real bad.”

I’ve had to make a decision,” he said solemnly. You’re real decent people and a Godsend to me and my …… my wife. If I don’t make it, please take little David and raise him as your own. Could you do that? He deserves a real family. Please, just in case I don’t make it, promise me”………

We told him not to worry because he was going to be fine but that we would be honored to see to your care until he recovered, and in case he didn’t make it, we made a solemn promise to him that we would love you and be your parents.”

That makes me feel much better,” he said slowly, “At peace, ya know? There’s some things I want you to have, for David. In the trunk of our car, there is a steel lockbox with some important papers and stuff in it. Get that. It has my father’s dog tags who David is named after, David’s birth certificate, some photographs, and other things that might help David when he’s older. Now would you get me a pad to write on so as I can look after my son and help you as well? I just need a little time alone”………….

We stayed by your crib praying while your father was in surgery. After a long wait, we went to his room and were told that his internal injuries had been too serious and that he had suffered a stroke in surgery and the worst that he feared, had happened. I think he knew”……….

Davey’s daddy had gone to the master bedroom. When he came back to the couch, he had a steel box in his hands. He opened it and removed a folded sheet of paper which he gave to his wife.

On the nightstand next to his empty bed we found this letter as well as his keyring and billfold. Let me read this to you.”

To whom it may concern, especially to Wayne and Sarah Christopher: This is my last will and testament. If you are reading this, that means I didn’t make it through surgery. I have gone to join my dear Hannah in heaven. I hereby, being of sound mind, give my permission and all the rights for the Christophers, Sarah and Wayne, to be legal guardians and parents to our beloved son, David. We don’t have any family left to take him. I have discussed this with them, and they have agreed and promised to do that. I hereby give everything we own, which ain’t much, to the Christophers for David’s benefit.

To the Christophers, I give my sincere thanks for saving me and little David, and for comforting me and staying with David this whole night. You are a Godsend, we didn’t have anybody else. Your kindness won’t be forgotten. Raise our son to be a smart, kind, God fearing man.

David, we are so sorry that we couldn’t be your mommy and daddy. When you are old enough, Mr. and Mrs. Christopher will tell you about us and tell you that we loved you more than anything in the world. Always be a good boy for them, son. They are the mommy and daddy that God sent for you, to take our place. These are my wishes and I speak for my beloved wife too. Whoever has the power and authority to carry them out, please see to it. May God be with you all. See you in Heaven. Signed, James Neil Davidson”

By this time, they were all weeping and hugging. “Thanks, Mommy and Daddy for tellin’ me all the facts. The real truth.” He was still trying to absorb it all. “So God sent you to save my life?”

You might say that, yes, and that story was the hard part.”

And my old name is Davidson?”

Yes, son, and this is the happy part. Here’s your birth certificate. See? David N. Davidson. When we finally were able to adopt you legally, which wasn’t easy, we listed your name as David N. Davidson Christopher because we wanted you to have our name. You see, there’s more to the story. It’s why we said we needed you too.”

We didn’t think we were able to have children. We had talked once about adopting. Then God dropped you right into Daddy’s arms! The strange thing is, after you came along, we found out we were going to have Di! Two miracles in a row. God always does things in order!”

What does the “N” stand for, Mom?

We aren’t sure, but we think maybe “Neil”, like your father’s.”

Are those Grandpa’s dog tags?”

Yes, “David N. Davidson”, like you.”

He stared and stared at the few photographs of the Davidsons holding their baby. “I feel so sad. No wonder you wanted to wait ’til the right time to tell me. This is….. difficult, isn’t it”……….

Yes, for all of us, dear.”

And look at this, Davey, they awarded your father this for his heroism during the war. It is a Distinguished Service Cross awarded for valor in combat. He told me that he had saved several families in the French Resistance all on his own while he was badly outnumbered.” He handed it to Davey, who immediately examined the shiny, gold cross, hung on a red, white, and blue ribbon. The cross had an eagle in front and the words “FOR VALOR”.

Wowww!” he whispered as Daddy pinned the medal on his shirt.

You can wear this for awhile. It belongs to you, but remember it’s not a toy. Your father, Jim, was a real war-hero.”

Yes, Sir,” he saluted. “You are my biggest war hero, though,” he stated, hugging his Daddy. “Dad, it isn’t bad bein’ adopted. Mr. Nick told me it isn’t. He said he was adopted as a son by God, because of Jesus.”

He sounds like quite a guy. He’s right. I want to hear more about him. Thank God for sending him to bring you home. Now, I think we need to get you two kids to bed. You’ve had a long day, and Santa Clause won’t come if you’re up,” he winked.

Santa is real, Daddy, well the spirit of Santa anyway. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist. He is a metaphor for generosity and love toward little children. Mr. Nick said so.”

He says some pretty deep things, your Mr. Nick. Tell me more tomorrow after we open presents?”

You bet, Daddy!” He hugged and kissed them both. “Love you guys and thank you for adopting me and giving me a home.”…………..

^*^*^*^

He carefully folded his shirt leaving the medal fastened before turning out the lights, then looked out of his bedroom window to see snowflakes falling out of the night sky.

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
Lord, stay with me in the dark of night
And keep me safe ’til morning’s light………………….
God bless Mommy and Daddy Davidson in Heaven,
And Mommy and Daddy, and Di,
And Mr. Nick, and Grandma, ………….and Rusty, hehe, Amen”

His thoughts raced and swirled like those snowflakes in the dark. “Cases solved today. Charlie Chan. Number one son. The Purloined Letter. Questions answered. Joe, Frank, Nick. He had to forgive the lies. He had told some himself. He, himself, needed forgiveness. Words and phrases swirled like a blizzard…….
Really adopted. Lucky. Real parents loved me……all four of them.
Santa is real, but not like I thought he was.
Jesus’ birthday is real. God is real, and He loves me and has a purpose for me.
I love Christmas. I love Mr. Nick. Mr. Nick loves everyone.

Nick Smith, traveler. Captured. Lost and saved. Dreams. No memory, no name. Eisenhower. Harley motorcycle. Something is missing. Think. Thanksgiving. Faith is evidence of things unseen. Christmas. Godsend. God is good. Miracles. Overlooking something. Gifts. Christmas. Lights, decorations, carols, church. Long walk today, so tired. Yawn. Mr. Nick. Godsend. Godsent. God……………”

^*^*^*^

It was morning! Still dark outside, and snowing, but it was Christmas morning! Presents! Food! Celebration! Stepping into his slippers, Davey bounded down the stairs.

Thought you’d never get up, Daveyyy!” stated Di in a loud voice. “Look at all the presents!” Sure enough, the presents that were under the tree last night were covered with lots of new presents. “Let’s get Mommy and Daddy! Come on!” And they invaded their parents’ bed and giggled when they pretended not to wake up.

Oh my goodness, it’s not even six thirty yet! Go back to bed,” they teased.

Music! Light the tree! Get the scissors! Light the scented candles! Take your places! Davey, pass one present to each of us!”

There were bicycles, a truck, a doll, a toy oven. It had been a good year on the farm as the abundance of presents showed. Shirts, sweaters, dresses, gloves, toy tractors, a detective set, stuffed animals, (Rusty stared at them), fruits and nuts in their stockings, cufflinks and a necklace, thanks, and smiles, and laughter. Then little Dianne crawled out from under the tree and yelled, “There’s no name on this one!” It was a small box wrapped in paper that had Santa faces on it.

That is the one Mr. Nick gave me last night. He said it’s a trinket he found on the loading dock at Woolworth’s where he works and sleeps. Last night was his last night in town, and today he is hitchhiking south, and I’m sure gonna miss him.”

Well open it!” everyone exclaimed. So he carefully cut the paper off, kind of like gathering evidence, and opened the box. There was a layer of cotton covering something small. He lifted the cotton and just stared, like Rusty, at the detailed baby Jesus which had been oiled, waxed, hand-rubbed, and polished into a satin finish. Then they all just stared like Rusty, only very wide-eyed.

What are the chances of that happening?

How did he know?

He didn’t. He couldn’t have known!” they all said at once. Di removed the porcelain Jesus and replaced it with the wooden one in the manger where it belonged. It looked very right, now!

Wait, this is, this is, ……….. I think someone is trying to tell us something! Only God could have known!” asserted Davey. His head was spinning, wheels were turning, intuition sparking. And in a few moments connections were made, cloudy points of evidence began to resolve, then they converged. “Mommy! Daddy! I have a hunch! Hear me out!”

His points were well-organized. He was in his element:

First of all, Nick had said Harley Davidson felt like home! Davidson!
Second, Nick had dreams about a possible son in uniform! Jim?
Third, the Distinguished Service Cross. Nick’s son was wearing a cross in the dreams! Jim Davidson!
My fourth point, the dog tags. Nick lost his dog tags when he was captured on a South Pacific Island.
Fifth, Nick came home not knowing who he was because his memory was gone and nobody else knew because of the secrecy of his mission. His records were lost or destroyed, but his dog tags were found!”

Dad, lets see that box again.”

Are you thinking what I think you’re thinking, son?”

Davey explained his reasoning, but it took awhile to convince them that it made sense. He searched quickly through the old photographs, scanning each one for supporting evidence.Look in the background of this picture, back by the house. There is a man who kind of looks like Mr. Nick without a beard passing out gum or candy to a bunch of kids. He loves children. Same height and body style, like they say on “Dragnet”.

Wayne chimed in, “And Jim Davidson said that they found the tags but no body. His father was missing and presumed dead on an island in the South Pacific. There was so much miscommunication back then. When he returned to the States, he simply fell through the cracks, like so many G.I.s.”

Everyone, I’m pretty sure Mr. Nick Smith is my grandpa, Mr. David N. Davidson!” We have to find him!

You could be right, Davey. We need to talk to him and sort this out. Is he at Woolworths?”

Let’s find out, Dad, he said he was going to hitchhike south.”

You two bring him back here, Di and I will make a big breakfast,” Sarah volunteered.

Bundle up Davey, I’ll put some sacks of feed in the truck bed for traction. The weather looks bad, and the highway could be slick.”

^*^*^*^

When they reached the alley behind Woolworth’s they stopped the truck, left it running, ran up the loading dock steps, and tried the sturdy steel door. It was unlocked. They went in. The boiler room was open, but the inner door to the store had been locked. “Mr. Nick!” Davey called out several times. Davey showed his dad the room with the cot. It was folded and leaning against the wall. He was gone. “If we don’t find him, it will be almost a whole year before we can tell him who he is!” asserted Davey.

He’s got to be on the highway. Quick!” they both yelled.

Highway 65 was the main north and south route. It was covered with about two inches of snow, but wasn’t crowded with traffic, it being Christmas and early Sunday morning as well. The snowplow hadn’t come through yet.

No sign of a hitchhiker.”

Maybe someone picked him up and took him as far as Summerville,” Dad suggested. Davey was getting more dejected by the minute. Summerville was twenty miles away. They drove carefully and quietly and finally reached the small town. They strained their eyes searching, but there was no sign of anyone on the side of the highway. A mile farther and they spotted a semi truck in the parking spaces next to the parking meters. “Northern Express Lines”, the back doors proclaimed. As they neared, the truck began pulling onto the street.

That could be something. We have to check.” He began flashing the headlights and honking like a crazy man. The semi truck stopped. “Roll your window down, Davey, and ask him if he’s seen a hitchhiker.” Davey did.

You mean him?” the truck driver said.

You mean me?” said the white head that popped up on the passenger side. Davey jumped out and ran around the front of the truck. The passenger door opened, and Nick Smith sat there incredulous. “Detective Davey! What in the name of Christmas are you doing here?” Almost without hesitation, he climbed down to the ground and hugged Davey.

Emotion overflowed. Davey couldn’t hold it back. “Mr. Nick we just had to find you. I think you’re my grandpa! My grandpa! I’m almost sure. I have the facts. Come home with us and let me prove it! Come on Mr. Nick! Hurry!

You’re sure, huh? This could prove interesting, son. Lead on!” “Thanks, anyway, Trucker. Change of plans,” he shouted as he retrieved his big red bag.

Mr. Smith? I’m Davey’s dad. Give us a listen, I know it sounds far-fetched, but I think Davey’s got something here. He’s rarely wrong.”

Nick Smith.” They shook hands “Very glad to meet you. Merry Christmas! Hope Davey here didn’t get in too much trouble last night. I’m not as fast as I used to be. Ho Ho Ho Ho!”

No, we had an important talk. Thanks for taking such good care of him!”

Thanks for the presents you brought last night, Santa, especially the baby Jesus!” Davey giggled. “It was the missing piece in our new Nativity set! That’s what got me thinking. That’s when I recognized it was a sign and a wonder that showed me God was near and that He wanted to tell me something important.”

Well, praise be to God! You’re welcome! Just when I think I can’t be surprised any more, He does something amazing! That’s the way He is! …………… Now what’s this grandpaw theory you’re going on about?” Davey’s Dad just smiled and nodded while Davey explained things eloquently, logically, and nonstop, all the way back home.

^*^*^*^

As Nick and Davey sat together on the couch after everyone had been introduced, Nick said, “It sure sounds plausible. I think you might have something here, Davey. Can I see the items you mentioned?”

Sure thing, Mr. Nick,” Davey assured him. “There’s just one thing I don’t know. If I’m named after you, I can’t figure out what our middle name is. Daddy thinks it might be Neil like my father’s, but how can we be sure?”

I don’t remember these pictures. Is this my son, is that baby you, Davey?” His eyes were tearing up. “This Service Cross could be the one I saw in my dreams. These dog tags……………………….” His gaze looked far away for awhile, then came back in focus. “David N. Davidson, David N. ……………… Davey! the “N” is for Nicholas! We are David Nicholas Davidson! Well, praise God, things are starting to come back to me. No wonder I adopted the name Nick, it seemed kinda right, somehow,” he grinned his largest grin.

Davey was jumping up and down, and hugging Nick around the waist in his excitement.

Welcome to the family, Mr. Davidson,” said Mom, warmly. “Breakfast is ready, lets go to the table.”

Will you be my grandpa too?” asked Dianne.

Of course little one,” he responded, picking her up and holding her as she patted his beard.

David “Nick” Davidson said the blessing. It was joyful and uncharacteristically brief lest the bacon and eggs, hash browns, homemade bread, and sticky pecan rolls get cold.

^*^*^*^

Stay here with us, Mr. Davidson, Davey and I could use a hand around the farm. We have plenty of room. You’re family, and this community could use a good man such as yourself.”

That’s so kind of you to say, Wayne. Call me Nick from now on! I’ve had thoughts of settling down, although I kinda thought it would be on the Texas coast. HaHaHa! No, really this is a wonderful town for one month a year and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be for twelve. I’ll try to pull my own weight around here,” he winked at Davey, who got the joke right away and giggled. “Well, I’d love to if you’re sure. This is all so sudden and unexpected. Thank you so much for your kindness. See what I mean by God having a plan, and a purpose, Davey? I just knew we had a special connection. Always remember that the name “David” means “beloved”, and that’s what we are, and very, very blessed as well! Now, let’s have a look at that miraculous Nativity scene.” And he began singing: “I’ll be home for Christmas. You can count on me. I’ll be home for Christmas. It’s better than a dreammmm! HaHaHaHoHoHoHo!”

^*^*^*^

Later that night………….

Thank You, dear God, for saving my life, and making me
into a good detective. Thank You, God, for answering my prayers,
and showing me that You are real, and that the spirit of Santa is real too.
Thank You very much for Jesus, and for Christmas.
Thank You that I am blessed and beloved. Thank You for my great
mommy and daddy. Thank You, God, for my new Grandpa David.
Thank You, Heavenly Father, for the best Christmas ever.
Thank You for letting Grandma visit tomorrow.
I have a hunch Grandpa and Grandma are going to get along great!”

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
Lord, stay with me in the dark of night
And keep me safe ’til morning’s light.
God bless Mother and Father Davidson in Heaven,
And Mommy and Daddy, and Di,
and Grandpa, and Grandma,”……………. “and Rusty, hehe.”

Amen”

^*^*^*^

Merry Christmas
and
A Godsent New Year To All !

^*^*^*^

 

Cover Credit:

My Thanks To
Grant McMillan Woodcarvings
For The Handcarved, Hand-Rubbed Nativity Scene Photo

Copyright © 2012 – Lenn Snider
All Rights Reserved

 

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The Basic Christian Library

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. This is fundamentally what Christianity is all about.

"The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Another converted atheist presents His compelling case for believing in Jesus.

"Left To Tell" by Imaculee Ilibagiza. This profound work is her own extraordinary story of endurance, discovery of the Holy Spirit, grace, healing, and an astonishingly compelling account of the necessity for forgiveness.

Compelling Christian Fiction Reads

"The Circle" 4-book series by Ted Dekker.
A man is the bridge between two very different worlds. Sound familiar? Can he save both? This T.D. work is brilliant in my book.

"This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness" by Frank E. Peretti. Tales of spiritual warfare from a unique perspective. Stirred a small controversy, but sold millions. What are we Christians afraid of? Hey, it's fiction!

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