The Best Gift
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There was a giraffe, not a real giraffe, like the one you might see on an African savannah, but a special giraffe nonetheless.
This one was stuffed with cotton, sewn with care, and his yellow and brown spots were faded from heavy use. He was the size of an infant, held a blank expression, and seemed ordinary to the eye.
But not to Daniel Chapman.
To Daniel, he was his most trusted friend.
He was an imagination ally, and comfort zone among a world of whimsy.
He was Mr. Tillygoo.
It was a beautiful winter day, a fresh snow had fallen and the Christmas decorations were out on full display.
Daniel and his family were on their way to visit Grandma.
It was tradition to visit Grandma's on Christmas Eve for dinner and egg nog.
The Chapman's car drove down Main Street with a certain giraffe lying inside the window atop the backseat.
Daniel was asleep in his seat, just below his giraffe.
His Mum and Dad spoke quietly as they rode along the wintery scene.
Light poles were wrapped with brightly themed tinsel and twinkling lights.
The townspeople crowded the sidewalks for last minute shopping and merrymaking. There was hot cocoa, carol singing and smiles, oh the smiles were plentiful.
The evening sun was setting when they arrived at Grandma's house, and dinner was already prepared.
A pie was baking in the oven, adding to the wonderful aromas Daniel always enjoyed at Grandma's house.
The family enjoyed a lovely dinner, and during dessert Daniel and Mr. Tillygoo played.
Soon snow began to fall, and Daniel and his giraffe huddled by the window to watch the winter display.
Soft Christmas carols played on Grandma's radio; the nearby fireplace crackled and provided soothing warmth to the room.
Daniel's eyelids became heavy and soon he and his giraffe were fast asleep by the window.
Later in the evening Daniel was awakened briefly while being carried by his father. The Chapman's were leaving.
Daniel was buckled snugly into his seat and soon they were off toward home and to await the promise of Christmas Day.
But, as the car drove away, a certain giraffe was left seated at Grandma's window, and a certain boy was unaware.
Christmas morning arrived and it was a beautiful day.
Blankets of snow covered the grounds and snowmen stood in lawns up and down the neighborhood street.
Some children were already outside, playing with their new toys, riding their new bicycles.
Yet, all was not well in the Chapman home.
There was no rejoicing, no wrapping paper littered about, and no Christmas cheer. Daniel was miserable, he had lost Mr. Tillygoo.
Daniel searched for his giraffe under the bed, but he was not there.
He sprang up and hurried to his closet.
The door swung open and Daniel began pawing through his toys lying about, but no luck there either.
He began to feel very worried.
Daniel combed the house, searching room by room, high and low, under and over anything that could be hiding Mr. Tillygoo.
But nothing turned up.
Daniel's frustration was clear and a tear began to swell in his eye.
Mrs. Chapman walked over to Mr. Chapman and whispered, "Someone has brought us a very important gift."
Mr. Chapman looked confused and noticed through the kitchen window that a familiar car was parked in the driveway.
Daniel's father walked over to his unhappy son and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Daniel," Mr. Chapman said, "I know you're very upset."
"He's lost Daddy!" cried Daniel.
"Daniel," Mr. Chapman repeated. "I think there's one place you haven't searched."
Daniel wiped a tear away and looked up to his father.
Mr. Chapman smiled and nodded his head toward the fireplace.
Daniel followed his father's gesture to the brick fireplace in the great room.
The fire crackled behind the iron screen, many Christmas decorations were placed on either side.
Daniel looked up and across the mantle filled with garland and ornaments and....a stocking.
A stocking with his name sewn across the front.
In it was a swell, the possible outline of a certain animal native to the African savannah.
Daniel's eyes widened and hope swelled in his heart.
He ran through the kitchen and stopped below the mantle.
With help from his mother, Daniel unhinged the stocking from its perch.
He reached through the dark opening and felt around with great anticipation.
A brilliant smile came to Daniel as the familiar brown and yellow neck slowly rose from the stocking.
Daniel screamed, "Mr. Tillygoo!" and he wrapped his arms around him tightly. He looked to his mother and cried, "Santa! He didn't forget! He brought him back to me!"
Mr. and Mrs. Chapman were grinning at the reunion.
Mr. Chapman put his arm around his wife and said softly, "I guess there are Christmas miracles after all."
Mrs. Chapman glanced over her shoulder toward the kitchen.
There, peeking around a corner was Grandma, watching her grandson embrace his dear friend.
With a tender wave she quietly retreated back into the kitchen and out the door to her car.
"Yes," said Mrs. Chapman, watching Grandma leave, "Santa came through again."
To Mason and Quinn; my best gifts.
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