“Earl, you have been so generous with your time today. Here is a small token, use it to treat yourself to a nice dinner.”
“Mr. Spaulding, I cannot accept this…it is too much,” Earl shocked as he opened the envelope with cash and plane tickets to his home town.
“It is from Saint Nicholas. And you cannot refuse his Christmas cheer.”
“Hats off to Good Old Saint Nick,” Earl chuckled.
“I’ll give you a ride to the airport, on my way to Shuskan.”
“You aren’t going to drive that stretch of highway tonight, alone?”
“I will be fine. I am due for Christmas dinner at my family’s farm.” Grant hoped his family would accept his apology.
“I do not know why you insist on setting a place for Grant. He is not coming.” George expressed his frustration to his mother as he prepared the table for Christmas dinner.
“Christmas is a time of renewal and hope. I know in time Grant will return to us.”
“He has made it perfectly clear time and again he wants nothing to do with us. He is a killjoy, poisoning every step of ground he treads on.”
“Do not talk about your brother that way.” Marie trembling.
“My brother is dead to me.” George fired back. “His ghost haunts this house. You are more concerned with a son that is lost to you than the family who loves you, the family here before your eyes.”
“I love you all with my whole heart and I thank God to have you in my life. Still a piece of the family is missing, a void. That doesn’t mean I love you less. I simply want Grant restored to us, for him to return from his life of darkness into the light love.”
“In case you missed the news yesterday, your beloved son is on a heartless crusade to fire nearly one million workers and do away with his company’s charitable foundation, I doubt a heart of stone beats. A heart of stone certainly doesn’t have a conscience.” George dismissed.
With not even a suitcase for his travels, Grant sped east three hours, winding through vast prairies and curving mountain roads, lingering the shadow of the snowy Cascades to Shuskan.
He arrived on the outskirts of town just after eight o’clock. The darkness, sparkling with starlight. He turned left on North Fork Road. He rumbled over the gravel for two miles before reaching the entrance to his family’s farmstead, The Cascade Gulch Ranch. He stopped at the gate, vacillating. He had spent the past three hours pondering what he was going to say. Words couldn’t express his regret. He pressed on, determined to make amends.
The Spaulding family was enjoying desert of buttered pumpkin spice pie and hand churned ice cream when the doorbell rang.
“Are we expecting someone?” Bill asked.
“It is probably Madge Morrison,” Marie assumed. “I left an open invitation to join us for dinner. She said she would stop by if she got home from her son’s place over the ridge in time.”
“I will see who it is,” Elsie volunteered. Opening the front door, she nearly fell to her knees. “Grant?”
“Sorry I am late for dinner. I got tied up in Seattle.”
“If you are here to stir up trouble…?” Elsie searched his faith. She desperately wanted to believe Grant’s motives were rooted in love and pure hopes of reconciliation. She loves her brother. In love sometimes you have to make difficult decisions. She struggled between embracing him, welcoming him inside as a long lost treasure that had been found, to forbidding him to enter the house.
“I have be blessed with a Christmas epiphany. I have seen the light of love. At first it blinded me, I have become a creature of the darkness, it took a process of revelation to finally submit myself to selfless love and to be moved by the Holy Spirit to follow God’s will. The cost of broken trust is hard to repair. I do not expect forgiveness. I do owe the family an apology.”
“Apology?” Elsie tussled with emotions. Reaction told her to slam the door, still angry for his past transgressions. Instinct told her to open the door to forgiveness.
“I cannot undo the past. I can apologize and actively work to be a better man in the future. A man guided by the light of selfless love. Anger, even justified only weighs down a spirit in despair and darkness. It obscures hope. If reconciliation is not possible, allow forgiveness to heal the wounds I have inflicted on this family. I deserve judgment, it is not your burden to bear. I do not expect pity, remorse, I come solely in the name of love and the grace that stems from Christ.” Grant spoke with a humble sincerity. “There is a plaque in the laundry room, here at the farmhouse, ‘I do not consider that I have made it on my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.’”
“Philippians 3:13-14…” Elsie’s voice trailed off.
“I came to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and to apologize.” Grant desperate in hope. “At least give me the chance to say I am sorry.”
“I accept your apology.” Tears rolling down Elsie’s cheeks. “It is strange…I had a dream…you were homeless and at a community center in Seattle and you came with a contrite heart, and we forgave each other…the dream felt so real. I have not been able to release it from my mind. Perhaps it the dream served as a premonition a sort of acknowledgment to accept your apology…to strain forward in love, healing step by step.”
“The dream you had…I had it too…” Grant paused. “Elsie, I know I let you down by not giving you the loan for the bed and breakfast.”
“I understand, it is a risky business…Shuskan is not booming with tourism.”
“It could be though, a positive tourism geared towards eco-friendly travel and excursions into the Cascades, and the northern wine country. You deserved my ear and help. I denied you because I harbored a dark anger at the world. I acted selfishly. Money cannot right a wrong. Still I want to give you all the cash you need, no conditions, no loan, just a selfless gift to help make your dream come true.”
“I have to think about it.” Elsie treading cautiously. Even if he has changed, she could not blot out is unscrupulous business savvy.
“The offer is open. A gift, and I’m willing to sign documentation to that degree. I want the cash to be an open door to give you freedom to pursue your business goals, not a burden or manipulation tactic.”
“Mom set a place for you. She does every year…hoping and praying, tear drops in her squash soup that you’ll return. Mom and dad will be thrilled to see you…”
“George…I fear I have done irreparable damage to our relationship. I only hope he can accept my apology, even if we cannot mend our relationship.”
“You pulled a number on George. You let a void in him, a void he filled with bitterness and anger. That plot of land…it was our family’s future and you insisted on selling it for a quick inheritance. Now the ground is polluted with genetically engineered grain…” Elsie gentle, yet blunt in her assessment. “I say this because you need to tread carefully with our brother. He wants to reconcile, still he is stubborn and has reason to distrust you. Love can build and tear down mountains, it can kindle a flame in the darkness. My advice, be patient with George, act in good faith and back up your apology with action. Not handouts meant to dust off the pain of the past. Money cannot buy forgiveness. Rather listen to his concerns and do what you can in love to build a bridge to a future of healing.”
“There is nothing except love that can heal the poison of anger and the hate of betrayal. I am patient and respect his wishes, even if that means he never wants to see me again. All I want is to apologize. Where that road leads is up to the rest of the family. Forgiveness in itself is an act of grace. I can prostrate myself in confession, active in my atonement, the forgiveness comes within. If we carry anger, even justified it is a burden, that harms the victim. Forgiveness is as much about internal healing as forgiving the executor of injustice. I am more concerned about releasing the burden of anger from the family than receiving reconciliation, because I am not worthy for forgiveness…the family deserves to let go of the pain I caused them.”
“No time like the present to face the firing squad.” Elsie smiled. Grant missed her smile. She led her brother through the familiar hallways to the dining room located at the rear of the century old farmhouse. “It seems we have a late arrival for dinner.”
“Merry Christmas.” Grant spoke earnestly.
“Grant…” Marie rushed to embrace her son, with tears of joy and praise. “My son, you have returned home. God has answered my prayers.”
“Welcome home, son,” Bill shook Grant’s hand. The pain of the past washing away.
“What the blazes are you doing here?” George confrontational.
“I came to apologize.”
“You think you can waltz in here and receive our forgiveness. You made our lives a living hell.” George austere.
“I don’t expect your pardon. If reconciliation is given, I will joyously accept that living grace. I don’t deserve forgiveness. You do deserve my apology. For years I have wandered in darkness, fuelled by anger, consumed by anger and selfishness. My soul toxic with hate and self-desire. I became so entwined in the darkness, that I was blinded by light and love, truth and compassion. It took God’s grace, the spiritual gifts of Christmastide to reawaken my soul. I am a new man. I cannot change the past, I can strain in active love towards a future of healing and compassion.”
“So says a man that is going to lay off a million workers and supports agricultural practices that poison our land.” George scoffed.
“I am reversing my business model at NWTC. We are locking in all current jobs and moving forward with an initiative to add another million jobs, mostly in transitioning to U.S. manufacturing. NWTC is making a commitment to only sustainable food, organic produce and meats. We are going to become an industry leader in green business. I would be honored to hire you as our new head of Organic Distribution.”
“I do not believe you can change so quickly.”
“Christmas is a season of miracles. By grace I finally saw the light.”
“You have our forgiveness.” Marie and Bill, as well as George’s family stated.
“Anger eats away at you George, at least give him the benefit of the doubt,” George’s wife Tara interceded as peace maker.
“How can I forget, when this man, my own brother stole land from me and polluted our legacy. He has only acted in malice. His word is poison, I cannot swallow his truths.” George pushed back.
“You are right. My word to this point has been poison. I cannot fix the past. The farm is sold and the ground tainted. I ask you not to forget, as much as let go of the anger. Not for me, but for your own benefit. You do not deserve that cloud of darkness hanging over you.” Grant pleaded.
“He is right. Anger is a prison in your mind, it bars you from life’s light.” Tara gentle in her advice. “I believe Grant. Healing takes time. Open your heart to that process.”
“I will open my heart to forgiveness, though it won’t be easy. Not with so much residual negative energy.” George relented.
“I understand forgiveness is often a journey, a process of revelation, acceptance and chipping away at anger bit by bit. I am willing to be patient and to submit to your wishes.” Grant on his knees.
“You might as well sit down for a piece of pie.” George answered. “After dinner perhaps we can discuss Northwest Trading Company’s organic and sustainable product focus.”
“I would be honored to hear your ideas and use your wealth of experience to move NWTC is a more eco-friendly direction.” Grant and George taking their first steps towards reconciliation.
“The light of Christmas has never shined so brightly in this house.” Marie praised God.
As Grant enjoyed the delicious homemade taste of his mom’s pie, he saw the profile of Saint Nicholas in the window. Grant hurried to catch the saint, to thank him for his intercessory help. By the time he reached the window, Nicholas had disappeared. A star ornament, a reminder of the journey of Grant’s Twelve Days of Christmas.
And from that day forward, the once miserly Grant Spaulding, actively sought to serve in love, embodying the spirit of Christmas all of his days. He created jobs, putting people above profits, utilizing conservation tactics. He grew in wealth and stature, yet he remained humble and generous. A friend to the poor and desperate and servant of God. And on a clear, star-filled Christmas Eve, three years after his great awakening, Grant married Marissa Bright. He loves her kids as his own.
God continues to search out the lost, hearing the prayers of the oppressed and weak, spreading light into the abyss of the world. He sends his angels to keep watch over all creatures of this earth and the saints his servants in heaven.
On a silent night or in the bustle of the world’s noise, you can hear God’s voice, he cries out to all of creation, he knows everyone by name and they are a joy to him. He desires reconciliation and works against desperation to fill hope through love’s light in the world. Christ, a living testament. So listen not to the world, but wait for God’s voice. See his face in humankind, acting with mercy and compassion, calling out the lost and wandering to their journey hope. Look to the stars and remember his guiding light. Let the fire of Christmas sustain you all your days, a journey of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, humility, grace, faith, hope and wisdom.
Hope you enjoyed. This was written in 2012 – and I’ve grown as an author, but still enjoy the story.