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A Christmas Miracle
Evidence of the Christmas spirit filled the crowded streets of New York City as the December winds rolled through, carrying the faint tunes of distant Christmas carols and sending the gentle snowflakes tumbling gracefully through the air. Tall trees covered in colorful ornaments filled every store window, accompanied by an array of bearded men dressed in red and large sacks filled to the brim with toys. Even in the chilling December temperatures, the Christmas spirit alone was enough to warm the hearts of all who passed through the winter wonderland.
Grace Chandler was a wealthy woman of New York City, from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to be exact. Christmas was her favorite time of year because it meant being able to spend more time than usual with her only child, five year old Lily. Widowed at a young age, Grace lived with just herself and her daughter in a beautiful penthouse apartment with more rooms than two people could possibly need. As Grace walked along the bustling sidewalk, she smiled delightedly as Lily’s eyes lit up at the sight of every toy in the store windows, accompanied by the classic “I want that.” She looked forward to Christmas Day, when she would be able to see Lily’s eyes gawking at all of her new toys and presents. Though many parents would look down upon it, Grace loved showering Lily with gifts. Thus, Christmas was Grace’s most favorite time of year.
They continued along the sidewalk, Grace occasionally making a mental note of a few last minute gift ideas for Lily. The air was cold and the snow was falling heavily, a peaceful white blanket on the ever-busy streets of Manhattan. Despite all the heavy coats and scarves layered on Lily, Grace could tell she was still freezing. She decided to take a break from their walk to stop in Starbuck’s to get herself a coffee and some hot chocolate for Lily. When they entered the store, there was hardly room to walk. It was just as crowded as the sidewalks outside. Making their way through a maze of people, they finally found the end of the line wrapped around the store and took their spot.
“Why don’t you take your gloves off, Lily,” Grace said, “We’re going to get some hot chocolate!” Lily smiled up at her.
“My favorite!” she said delightedly, and began removing her thick pink gloves.
The wait seemed to last forever, but Grace finally made her way up to the counter. She ordered their coffee and hot chocolate and after fighting through another crowd of people, retrieved them from the opposite counter. From the counter, the door seemed about a mile away, separated by a sea of people. She hastily made her way yet again through another thick crowd and pushed through the tall glass doors. The cold wind hit her like a thousand bricks and she began shivering as the gusts seemed to get colder with each blow.
It wasn’t until she went to hand Lily her hot chocolate that Grace realized she was gone. Large groups of people continued to pass as Grace tried to remain calm. From where she was standing, Lily was nowhere to be seen. Grace couldn’t see her in any of the gaps between crowds of pedestrians, and worry flooded her body like a tsunami. She dropped both cups and began sprinting for the door of Starbuck’s, pushing her way through every crowd until she had checked the entire store. But still, Lily was nowhere to be seen. Where do I go from here, she thought to herself, panicked. Continue searching? Call the police? She decided to make her way around the store one more time. After all, how far could she have gone, right? It had only been a few seconds, minutes at most. She has got to be around here somewhere. Thoughts raced through Grace’s mind as to where her daughter was. It’s all a joke, she thought to herself. Lily is trying to play a game or something. This is absolutely not happening, not to me. After searching through the crowds half a dozen more times, the truth became apparent. She stopped lying to herself and began to panic. Tears streamed down her face as she began to sob, “Where’s my daughter? Lily, where are you?” The other customers stared at her, but she had more important matters to think about.
She raced up to the counter, “Have you seen my daughter?” she shouted between sobs. The employee tried to calm her down, but the reality of the tragedy became more and more apparent with every passing second, and Grace seemed to get more and more upset. With wide strides, she ran out of the store and quickly dialed 9-1-1. She explained to the operator what happened and hung up abruptly, paralyzed with fear and panic. Realizing there was nothing more possible to do, she slowly walked back to her apartment, enduring confused stares from all bypassers. When she arrived home, she collapsed onto the couch and continued sobbing. Soon, she fell into a deep sleep and woke up hours later at 9:00 PM. The police were at her apartment to interview her about what had happened earlier in the day.
“At what points of the day was Lily alone?” the policeman asked her.
“None,” Grace explained, “We were together the whole day. She was never out of my sight. In fact, I held her hand the entire day.”
“There was no point that she was separated from you at all? No matter how brief the period, ma’am, we must know.”
Then it hit her. Then she remembered. In Starbuck’s when she had asked Lily to remove her gloves. That was the only point of the day that she had been separated from Grace.
Now in hysterics, Grace told the officer, “We were separated, in Starbuck’s, when I asked her to take off her gloves. That was the only time. It’s all my fault!” Her sobbing got louder now as the weight of grief and guilt became even heavier. The officer took a few notes and wrapped up the interview.
Grace climbed into Lily’s bed, still wearing her heavy coat and scarf. She took in the scents as memories of Lily flashed through her mind. Soon she calmed down and lay still in the bed, listening to the eerie silence that flooded the apartment. Where did the usual noise go? The sounds of Lily’s favorite Christmas CD’s and movies? Gone. The only thing left now were the memories.
Days passed and Lily was still missing, despite a statewide search. Finally, it was Christmas Day. Grace felt more depressed than any other day, and spent the entire morning sobbing, praying that a miracle might happen and Lily would be safely home soon. Darkness enveloped the house as she continued to lay in Lily’s bed. She hadn’t bothered turning on the lights on the tree, let alone laying out the presents. She longed to see Lily’s face light up in happiness as she gazed in awe at all the presents Santa left her under the tree. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Reluctantly, Grace climbed out of the bed and slowly made her way to the door. Her hair was messily draped over her shoulders and her pajamas were hanging loosely over her pale body. She pulled the door open and the light from the hallway flooded into the living room. It was a police officer. And behind him, there she was. It was Lily. Grace gawked in disbelief at the sight of her beautiful daughter.
“Ma’am,” the officer began, “is this Lily?” but he didn’t need an answer. As soon as Lily looked at Grace, she ran up and embraced her mother, tears streaming down both of their faces.
“Merry Christmas, Mommy!” Lily exclaimed as they hugged, “I missed you!” Grace hugged back, holding as tight as she possibly could, and never planning to let go again.
“Lily,” she replied sobbing, “I missed you so much! I am so glad you are home.” The officer then explained that with the help of the Starbuck’s employees and some witnesses, they were able to locate the kidnapper. Overjoyed with happiness, Grace continued to hold Lily closely after the officer left, grateful to finally be with her daughter again.
“I’m sorry, Mommy,” Lily said as she let go of her mother’s embrace, wiping the tears out of her eyes.
“Sorry for what, sweetie?” Grace said, still in disbelief that she was holding her daughter again.
“I couldn’t get you a Christmas present.” Lily replied, her voice shaky from crying.
“Lily,” Grace replied, “you are the greatest Christmas present Mommy could ever ask for,” and pulled her in for another hug.
That Christmas, despite temporarily losing her daughter, was Grace’s favorite of all. Despite the tragic events that it held, that Christmas taught Grace more about the Christmas spirit than she ever knew existed. She learned never to take anything for granted, because in the blink of an eye, you could be without your most valuable possessions. She learned to be grateful for everything and everyone in her life, because living without Lily made her realize how truly special she was. Most of all, she learned that not only is Christmas a time of giving, but it is a time of hope and a time of love, and a time when magical things and miracles can happen.