I woke up this morning to a message from my neighbour Dirk: “goodmorning brrrrruce, coffee? and little breakfast”
My response: “Oh … breakfast! I will come in five with bells on.”
I knew I had brought my Santa sleigh bells across the ocean. Which of my five remaining boxes were they in?
I searched them all. Nothing. I tried some drawers – same result. My face screwed up. “They’ve got to be here! I want my bell moment.”
Back to the boxes. Buried near the bottom of one was the treasure I sought. And down the stairs I rumbled.
As we talked and ate, I glanced now and then at the bells. I remembered a story. And here it is:
It was a long time ago, approaching Christmas. I was a teacher of a blind child in an elementary school. I was going to be supervising sixty 12-year-olds while we watched The Polar Express, a movie about a train taking kids to the North Pole to meet Santa.
After some very cool adventures, the young hero of the film was sitting with Santa in the sleigh. I’ll call him Jeremy. He had been a disbeliever about the big guy but had slowly turned to the light.
Santa gave Jeremy a single sleigh bell. He put it in his pocket, which unfortunately had a hole. On the Polar Express heading home, the boy realized that the bell was lost …
As the story unfurled, perhaps fifty of the sixty kids were enthralled. So was I. I had seen the movie several times and it was always young in my soul.
The last scenes are at home on Christmas morning. A single present remains under the tree. Jeremy’s sister Sarah hands it to him. Inside is … the bell! Waydago, Santa. Jeremy rings it, and the sweet sound fills the room.
Mom and Dad come by. Mom gives it a try. Nothing. “Oh, that’s too bad.” And Dad … “Broken!”
“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell. But as years passed it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound.
Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”
As the credits rolled, the kids still sat – some lost in the ending, some antsy to get to recess. I, however, had a finale:
I reached into my pocket and pulled out three sleigh bells. I held them high. Silence filled the room. Eyes were fixed on the round, on the shiny, on the pure.
“I wonder if we can hear them ring”