by Dee Lorraine
Ten-year-old Shawn had been planning for months, and he was ready.
When school resumed after summer vacation, he began saving some of his lunch money. He skipped buying dessert, which gave him $10. He picked up every coin he saw on the ground.
Shawn planned to buy a red wool scarf for his mother as a Christmas gift. A surprise.
For as long as he could remember, his mother had worn the same faded purple scarf each winter.
But red was her favorite color.
Hello GoodBuys, the small town’s locally-owned department store, had run a TV ad offering 100-percent wool scarves for $8.99. Adding $0.72 tax and $0.50 for the in-store holiday gift wrap service, Shawn’s total would be $10.21.
Christmas was three days away.
Shawn had $10.46. He was ready to shop.
Hello GoodBuys held a children’s shopping hour every year, from 8 to 9 a.m. on Christmas Eve. The store was closed to adults. Children aged ten through 12 years old were allowed in the store to shop without their parents.
This year would be Shawn’s first time Christmas shopping alone, and he was thrilled.
Shawn’s mom dropped him off in front of the store at 7:55.
“I’ll be back at 9:10, Shawn. Wait outside by the benches at the entrance so I can see you.”
“Okay, Mom, I will. Thank you. I love you.”
“I love you too, sweetheart.”
As Shawn walked toward the store’s revolving door, he noticed a woman on one of the benches. She looked like his mother, but older, more tired. And cold.
His heart went out to her. He wanted to hug her.
I wish I could buy her a scarf, he thought.
Shawn wanted to give his mother a scarf. She’s been wearing the same scarf forever.
He wanted to give the woman on the bench a scarf. She didn’t have a scarf at all.
He was conflicted.
Then Shawn remembered his Sunday School lesson. The wise men saw the Christmas Star, the sign in the east that Jesus was born.
“I need a sign,” he said softly.
Shawn found the table of wool scarves in the accessories department and selected a beautiful, lively red one.
Perfect, he thought. She will love this.
He took the scarf to the sales counter and handed it to the cashier.
“Gift wrap it, please.” Shawn waited for the final price.
“What a lovely scarf,” the cashier said. “You only want one?”
Shawn looked at her, puzzled.
“Didn’t you see the sign?” The cashier pointed at a nearby display.
“Everything is “Buy One, Get One Free” for children 12 and under, including gift wrap,” she said.
As Shawn headed back to the scarf table, he began to cry.
Scripture References (KJV):
Dee Lorraine writes fiction, non-fiction, prose, and poetry. Her 100-word stories often appear in the online literary journal Friday Flash Fiction. She makes videos for drabble authors and posts them on her YouTube channel, “Superfast Stories.” Having experienced homelessness as an adult, Dee uses her YouTube channel, “Provoke Unto Love,” to promote a unique, Christ-centered solution that can end child and family homelessness in the United States permanently.