“Mommy, daddy!” nine-year-old Matt screamed, running into the house.
“Our angel statue is gone,” he explained as he tried to catch his breath.
Matt, with his mother and father in tow, walked outside and looked at the Christmas decorations adorning the front of their house.
“It’s gone,” father sighed, noticing the missing angel. “I’ll bet it was stolen by someone from that housing project across the railroad tracks.”
“Dear, let’s not assume they stole it,” mother replied. “It could have been anyone just passing by.”
“Well, you know it probably was those people,” father retorted. “Who else could it have been?”
“That angel was my favorite Christmas decoration,” Matt sadly noted. “Do you think we can get it back before Christmas tomorrow?”
“I don’t know son,” father replied in a frustrated tone. “Let’s call the police and report the theft.”
All three retreated back into the house. The atmosphere had changed from happy and cheery to somber and reflective. An uncharacteristic silence had smothered the holiday spirit.
Later that afternoon the police arrived.
“Can you describe the missing item?” the police officer asked.
“It’s an angel statue about four-foot-tall, ceramic, with faded silver paint,” Matt’s father explained.
“It’s been in our family for many years,” Matt’s father continued. “Not worth a lot of money but it does have a lot of sentimental memories.”
The police officer scribbled a few words in his notepad.
“Do you think you will be able to find it?” father inquired.
“To be honest,” the police officer summarized, “we probably won’t find it. This is a low priority. The only way you are going to get it back is if you see it somewhere, in a car or another yard. If you do, give us a call. Other than that, there’s not much we can do. Take care.”
As the police car sped away, Matt and his father also felt their last sliver of hope for the angel depart as well.
Darkness fell with Matt and his father standing on the sidewalk gazing at the lighted decorations. Their eyes kept returning to the empty place in the front yard where the angel statue had stood guard. Both Matt and his father remained void of any holiday cheer.
Matt’s mother came outside to join them.
“Come on guys,” she pleaded, “cheer up … it’s Christmas Eve.”
“I miss my angel, mommy,” Matt replied with a sad tone.
“I just can’t understand why someone would steal it,” Matt’s father added.
“Look,” Matt’s mother interrupted, “you two are letting this ruin your Christmas. Look at all we have to be thankful for. We have each other, a beautiful home, and look at all those wonderful decorations on our house and the other houses on our street.”
“I keep hoping my angel will come home for Christmas,” Matt sighed.
“Well, I’m going inside and turn on some good Christmas music and try to enjoy the evening,” Matt’s mother proclaimed as she walked away.
A few minutes later, some friends out for a Christmas Eve sidewalk stroll stopped to talk.
The conversation quickly turned to the missing angel.
“I agree it was probably stolen by one of those transients from the housing project across the tracks,” one friend said.
“Yes,” Matt’s father agreed, “they have to come over here and steal our things. I don’t understand people that would steal an angel decoration on Christmas Eve. They ought to be locked up.”
A distant squeaking sound interrupted the discussion. Everyone looked down the dimly lit street. The squeaking grew louder as two figures approached.
“It looks like a man and a boy pulling a wagon. A wagon with squeaking wheels. Can’t quite see who it is,” Matt’s father observed.
The squeaking grew louder as the two figures got closer.
“Look at the ragged way they are dressed. They must be from that housing project,” another friend observed.
“Yes, maybe they are going to take some more decorations,” Matt’s father snickered.
When the two figures were within talking distance, the small boy pointed to Matt’s house and mumbled, “over there.”
The older man approached Matt’s father who was in the forefront of the group.
“Excuse me, sir,” he politely asked, “is this your house?”
“Yes it is,” Matt’s father replied.
“We wanted to return this to you,” the man continued as he moved aside to reveal a very familiar angel statue laying in the wagon.
“Why did you take it?” Matt’s father asked, somewhat confused.
At the older man’s prodding, the little boy stepped forward to answer.
“I was walking around looking at all the nice decorations and I saw your angel statue had fallen over,” the boy explained. “It was lying on the ground and one of the wings was broken.”
“Yes,” Matt’s father acknowledged, “but why did you take it from our yard?”
“I took it home because my father is really good at fixing things. He fixed it and I wanted to bring it back to its home before Christmas,” the little boy stated with a shy but deep sincerity.
They proceeded to remove the statue from the wagon and set it up in the front yard.
“Wow,” Matt beamed, “our angel has come home for Christmas.”
Matt’s father thanked the man and his son, and watched as they walked away down the street, fading into the night’s darkness.
“That was nice of that little boy and his father to fix your angel,” one of the friends noted. “It’s too bad they are poor.”
“Poor?” Matt’s father questioned. “Are they really?” He paused a moment to reflect. “Somehow I don’t think so …”