The Christmas Angel

Silently he watched from the cover of a hedge row. Pulling his coat tight around him, he shivered as a cold wind chilled him. It was something he was used to, and had done many times before, and was sure that he would do it again in the future.

His focus was on the small bungalow across the street. He had been sent to help in any way that he could. Now he waited for the right moment. As he watched he saw curtains move in a front window. A dark form appeared, and moments later he saw the glow of a strand of Christmas lights on what he assumed was a tree. He could tell that by its shape it was a small, spindly excuse for a tree.

“Probably the only thing she could afford,” he thought to himself.

As he watched the house the front door opened and a small boy headed down the steps. Bundled up heavily because of the cold, he stopped and looked back.

“Tommy, you have my list and money. Go to Walburn’s Market for me, please. Be careful and come right back,” his mother spoke from the open door.

“Ok, Mom,” Tommy answered and tramped through the snow-covered sidewalk. He turned onto the street and headed for the market.

“Maybe this will be my chance,” he muttered as he crossed the street and followed the boy.

Tommy meandered towards the business section of town. He knew exactly where the market was. He also knew he would eventually get there. But first, he had something else on his mind.

Tommy made a beeline for Jenkins Hardware Store. Arriving there, he immediately went to the large picture window facing the street. Stopping, he put his face up to the window and stared.

Coming up behind the boy, he stopped and watched him. He immediately knew what Tommy was fixated on. In the window was a bright, shiny, red bicycle.

Clearing his throat, he spoke, “Beauty, isn’t it?”

Startled, Tommy turned to face him.

He saw that he had frightened the boy.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Who are you?” asked Tommy while looking for an escape route.

“Name’s Gabriel. I just got in town this morning. Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you,” he said while smiling.

“I don’t know. Mom says never speak to strangers,” he answered.

“Your mom is right. You shouldn’t,” he replied, “do you want me to leave?”

Tommy stared at him. He looked like he was ok. In fact, there was something calming about him. In any case, he was right by the store’s door. He thought he could get away if he had to flee.

“It’s ok, I guess,” the boy answered.

“Do you like the bike?”

“Oh, yes, I’ve always wanted one,” Tommy answered with a tear in his eye.

“You’ve never had a bike?”

“No, Mom can’t afford one. She lost her job and times are hard. Sometimes we have to go to the food pantry in order to eat. I get so tired of peanut butter sandwiches I could cry. My mom tries but it is so hard,” he softly spoke.

“What about your father?”

“My daddy died two years ago. I miss my daddy something terrible,” cried Tommy.

All of this he already knew. He had been briefed before he came. The meeting was to break the ice.

“I am so sorry to hear that. It’s tough losing your father,” he gently spoke.

“My daddy was going to buy me a bike. He was going to teach me how to ride it. Now it’s too late. All my friends have bikes. I really want one.”

“Christmas is right around the corner.”

Tommy began to weep. “Mom says maybe we’ll have Christmas next year.”

Drying his eyes, he looked up to the man, or at least he tried. The man was gone. It was as if he had vanished into thin air.

That night the local church was having evening services. Afterward, the people were going to decorate the church.

Jim was carrying a box of lights out of the basement when he felt the presence of someone behind him. Turning, he saw a man climbing the steps, behind him, with a box of decorations in his arms.

“Do I know you?” he asked the man.

“No, I don’t think so,” came the reply.

“Are you new to the church?”

“Yes, you might say that.”

“Welcome. My name is Jim Jenkins. Yours?”

“My name is Gabriel.”

“Gabriel. Gabriel what?”

“Just Gabriel.”

The men entered the sanctuary and joined the others.

The rest of the evening Jim watched Gabriel. There was something special about him. He just couldn’t put a finger on it.

After finishing decorating, they got their coats and went down the steps to the sidewalk. “Wait up, Jim, can I talk to you? 

“I guess so. What do you want to talk about?” he asked.

“I’m new to town and I don’t know anybody or my way around. Can you help me? I’ll buy you a cup of coffee,” he offered.

“Well, I could use a cup. Sure, I don’t see why not. There’s a coffee shop a couple of blocks from here,” he pointed.

They entered the shop, found a seat, and sat down.

“What do you want to know?” asked Jim.

“Everything, but first off, tell me about you.”

Taken back, he spoke, “Not much to tell. I’m an orphan, I grew up in several foster homes. It was hard. At an early age, I learned not to trust anybody. That way I wouldn’t get hurt. I became rebellious and got into trouble a lot. If it wasn’t for a pastor showing his concern for me I’d be in jail right now. That man introduced me to Jesus. It turned my life around,” he answered with glistening eyes.

Gabriel nodded in agreement. He already knew all of this. Again he was breaking the ice.

“Do you have any fond memories? How about when you were a small boy?” Gabriel asked.

“Not many that I can recall,” Jim answered.


Jim thought for a couple of minutes and answered.

“Well, now that you mention it there is a fond memory. I had a perfect stranger buy me a bike, a bright, shiny, red one. I don’t know who he was or why he did it. I’m glad he did. I loved that bike.”

That was very nice of him,” Gabriel replied, “have you ever considered doing the same for somebody else?”

“Now that you mention it, I have pondered on it before. Sadly, I dismissed the thought. Why do you ask?”

“Just curious,” answered Gabriel.

That night Gabriel watched over Jim as he slept, Silently he turned his face toward Heaven.

“Father, I did as you instructed. I believe Jim is ready,” Gabriel prayed.

The next morning Jim awoke with an urgency. What Gabriel had asked him kept nagging him. He couldn’t get it off his mind. He fixed breakfast and then headed downtown to open the hardware store. As he walked through the door he saw the small boy staring through the front window. He could see the bike and knew why the boy was staring. He also saw Gabriel walk up and enter the store. They nodded, shook hands, and turned to watch the boy.

“He’s here almost every day staring at that bike.”

“Who is he,” asked Gabriel, already knowing exactly who the boy was.

“His Name is Tommy Turner. Lives on the other side of town.”

“Know anything about him?”

“A little bit. He lives with his mother. His father died a couple of years ago. His mother lost her job and struggles to make ends meet. I imagine she doesn’t have much for Tommy for Christmas.”

“I’ll take care of that. I’ll take the bike. That boy is going to have a Christmas,” said Gabriel.

Jenkins turned to him and gasped.

“So, you’re the one. After last night’s conversation, I couldn’t get it off of my mind. It bugged me all night. The funny thing is, I had that bike delivered to my store. I didn’t order it, and there was no paperwork with it or a return address on the box. I puzzled over that bike for a couple of weeks before I put it in that window. I knew that I had to do something. If that bike is going to Tommy it is yours,” Jim said with tears streaming down his face, “it’s the least I can do. Makes me feel good inside.”

Christmas morning the bike was sitting in front of Tommy’s door. Gabriel rang the doorbell and scurried out of sight. You could have heard Tommy’s elated shout for a couple of blocks in every direction. Behind the hedge, Gabriel smiled as he watched. Turning his face toward Heaven, he prayed.

“Thank you, Father. Thank you for blessing Tommy. You work in mysterious ways. You surely do. Thank you for sending me to Jim Jenkins and his willingness to help. And thank you for sending me to the Bicycle Company. Joseph Wheeler, the owner,  cried when he recalled receiving a bike, when he was a child, from a stranger. Thank you that he also listened to me and was willing to help. Bless these men for blessing Tommy. Now, Christmas is almost here. What is my next assignment?

December 3, 2021