By David Scott, sixteen
Waking up to the sound of my alarm, I smiled at the joy of only having to wait one more day. I got out of bed and threw some clothes on. Digging around the kitchen for some breakfast, I settled on a bowl of Cheerios and some leftover pizza from the night before. After watching cartoons, playing some video games and chatting on-line with some friends, it suddenly hit me that I hadn't bought a present for my mom. It was Christmas Eve, and the stores were going to be closing pretty soon. So I threw some shoes on, grabbed my skateboard and set off to the mall.
I swung open the heavy glass door into the mall only to see an incredible sight. People were running and panicking everywhere, trying to find the perfect gift for their loved ones. It was total madness. I decided to begin trying to make my way through the crowds when a guy in a black coat came up to me and told me with desperation in his voice that he had lost his brown leather wallet. Before I could say a word, he shoved his gray business card into my hand.
"Please call me at the number on the card if you happen to find it," he said. I looked at him, shrugged my shoulders and replied, "Yeah, no problem. I'll do that."
He turned to stop another person, and I continued to make my way through the unending stream of shoppers to look for a gift for my mom. I searched everywhere, up and down the mall in every store, with no luck. Finally, toward the very end of the mall, I spotted a small antique and glass-art store. It looked like it might have some interesting stuff - not the same as I'd seen in every other store. I figured I had nothing to lose so I went in.
Papers and boxes had been thrown everywhere from all the greedy Christmas shoppers digging around for the perfect gifts. It was pretty bad. It looked like a dirty bedroom with smelly clothes scattered around in it. As I tried to make my way through the pile of stuff, I tripped over a box in the aisle and fell flat on my face. I was so frustrated and worn out from shopping that I stood up, screamed and kicked the box. It flew through the air and hit a big, high-priced clay statue, almost knocking it over. My anger had gotten the best of me, but luckily no harm was done.
As I picked up the box to put it back on the shelf, I noticed a flat, green box hidden under some wrapping paper. I opened it up to find an amazing glass plate with a Nativity scene on it. There it was, the perfect gift, just lying in some trash waiting for me to find it. It felt like one of those moments when you hear angels singing hallelujah and beams of light stream down right over the place where you're standing. I smiled broadly, gathered it up and headed for the cash register. As the cashier was ringing up my purchase, I reached into my pocket to get my money. But my pocket was empty! I began to scramble around searching every pocket when I realized I had left my wallet at home. This was my last chance to get my mom a gift since the mall would be closing in ten minutes and it was Christmas Eve. It would take me twenty minutes to skate home and back. That's when I started to panic. Now what do I do? I silently asked myself.
So I did the only thing I could think of at that moment: I ran outside the store and started to beg people for money. Some looked at me like I was crazy; others just ignored me. Finally, giving up, I slumped down on a cold bench feeling totally defeated. I really had no idea what to do next. With my head hanging down, I noticed that one of my shoes was untied. Great, I thought. All I'd need now is to trip over my shoelace and break my neck. That'd be the perfect ending to this useless trip.
I reached down to tie my shoe when I spotted a brown wallet lying next to the front leg of the bench. I wondered if it could be the wallet that the man in the black coat had lost. I opened it and read the name on the driver's license inside. Yep. It was his. Then my mouth dropped in awe when I discovered three hundred dollars inside.
I never even questioned what I should do. I knew that I had to do the right thing, so I found a nearby pay phone and made a collect call to the number on the gray business card. The man answered and said that he was still in the mall. He sounded really happy and relieved. He asked me if I would meet him at the shoe store, which happened to be right next to the antique and glass store. When I got there, the man was so excited that he thanked me over and over while he checked to see if his money and credit cards were still there.
I turned to drag myself out of the mall and back home when I felt the man grab my shoulder. Turning to face him, I let him know that I hadn't taken anything. "I can see that," he replied. "I don't think I've ever met a kid like you who would return all that money when he could have taken it without anybody knowing." Then he opened up the wallet and handed me four twenty-dollar bills, thanking me again.
In great excitement, I leaped into the air and shouted, "Yes!" I thanked him this time and told him I had to hurry and go get my mom a present before the mall closed. I made it to the store just as they were getting ready to lock up. The lady was really nice about it and let me in.
I bought the glass plate and started skating home, grateful that everything had worked out. I found myself whistling Christmas carols as I replayed the evening over in my head. Suddenly, it hit me. I realized that I had been sort of a Christmas angel for the man who had lost his wallet, and that he had been the same for me when I'd forgotten mine. Double angels! I thought. It was another one of those moments when choirs of angels begin to sing and beams of light shine down on you. I knew that I'd never forget this Christmas Eve for as long as I lived.
The next morning, my mom opened my "miracle present." The look on her face assured me that she really loved it. Then I told her all about what happened when I was trying to get her gift. The story made the plate even more special to her.
Still, to this day, she keeps that green glass plate on our main shelf as a centerpiece. It reminds her of me, of course, but it continues to remind me that amazing things can happen when you least expect them. Especially during that magical time called Christmas.