Julie wants only one gift this holiday season, but it’s going to take a Christmas miracle to make her wish come true.
Julie Hamilton loves Christmas. It’s her favorite time of year, from the cinnamon smell of freshly baked mince-pies to the excitement of buying gifts for family and friends, decorating the tree, and hanging stockings for Santa Claus on the mantelpiece.
This Christmas promises to be extra special because she’s expecting the perfect gift–her first baby–on Christmas Eve.
However, a chance encounter turns her world upside down, and soon, she’s praying for her very own Christmas miracle.
Can the spirit of the Christmas season and the kindness of strangers find a way to make her wish come true?
Each man’s life touches so many other lives.
— Clarence Oddbody (the angel) in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
The child was curled up in bed, singing a nursery rhyme and sucking her thumb. At two years old, almost three, she was a toddler who was turning into a little girl without anyone noticing.
The light brown hair that fell across her pillow had never been decorated with a ribbon. She was wearing grubby pyjama bottoms and a stained top. There were no pretty dresses hanging in her wardrobe. Two odd socks kept her feet warm.
On the floor, beside her bed, a cup was upside down, but it went unnoticed beneath the pile of old clothes. Her best friend in the whole world was her beloved baby doll, with tangled blonde hair, and blue eyes that closed when she laid her down.
She whispered her secrets to the doll as she covered her gently with the only blanket on the bed. “Mummy’s tired. Ssshh… ’Night, ’night.”
She snuggled up to her doll, and pulled the blanket over her head, so her two older sisters wouldn’t see her sucking her thumb. She didn’t want them to tease her for being a baby.
There wasn’t much love or stability in her life; her parents were alcoholics, and she could hear the fury of another argument raging downstairs. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut and tried to block her ears from the sounds of crashing and yelling below. A door slammed, and the little girl started singing louder.
Sunday, December 1st, 2013
Julie Hamilton loved Christmas. It was her favourite time of year with its roaring fires, frothy mugs of hot chocolate, mince pies, brightly coloured tinsel, and the excitement of last minute gift buying.
However, nothing was more beautiful to her than the excitement on her niece’s face on Christmas morning, and no sound was more angelic than that of her little voice singing carols and giggling through the lines of her school play.
Julie was crammed into a plastic chair beside her sister and brother-in-law, watching her niece perform at her Christmas play. Mothers and fathers, with their heavy winter coats and woolly scarves draped behind them, smiled and waved at their children as they took their places on stage. A few latecomers squeezed between chairs, apologising as they accidentally stepped on toes.
The school hall was packed to capacity, and the room hummed with noise and chatter. Temperatures outside were below freezing and the weather forecast was for a white Christmas. Inside was toasty warm.
Red and green tinsel adorned the walls, and a brightly decorated tree took centre stage at the top of the hall. The rich smell of coffee and hot chocolate filled the air, as the parents helped themselves from the huge urns stationed in the corner. The head teacher was struggling to get to grips with the overhead projector, ready to beam the words of the Christmas carols that would soon be sung off-key.
The room hummed with anticipation. Small faces peeped out behind the heavy, red velvet curtains that were drawn unevenly across the stage. Costumes made from old clothes and sheets, were held haphazardly in place by belts that were too big. To Julie, the scene couldn’t have been more precious.
She gently patted her round stomach, knowing that in a few years, she would be proudly watching her own child on stage. Happiness surged through her. She was expecting her first baby–a Christmas baby, and she couldn’t wait to meet him. She squeezed her husband’s hand, and he looked into her warm brown eyes and smiled, knowing what she was thinking.
Everyone strained to catch a glimpse of their child. Mothers and fathers smiled widely, with eyes only for their little angel. It was a moment to be treasured. Relatives fumbled with their phones and video recorders, desperate to capture everything.
The microphone screeched as the head teacher welcomed the families, before the lights dimmed, and a hush descended on the hall. It was time for the show to begin. Everyone watched in rapt delight. Julie smiled indulgently at the child who sung the wrong words or forgot a line in the nativity scene; already imagining her son up there.
At the end of the show, she watched as the children came to say hello and hear how amazing they were. She even managed to give her beloved niece a quick hug. Love wasn’t a strong enough word to describe how she felt about the little girl, and she could only imagine how she would feel about her son when he was born.
She put a gentle hand on her swollen stomach, and felt the soft flutterings as her baby struggled to get comfortable. For months, she had watched and waited in awe. She couldn’t wait to finally meet him.
Monday, December 2nd, 2013
The little girl had grown into a troubled young woman, and happiness always seemed just out of reach. She had experienced many disappointments in her young life, and nothing had turned out as she had hoped.
She had been married for a year to a man who was more than twice her age. It was a marriage filled with emotional and mental abuse. She had promised herself that she would never turn to alcohol for comfort, but just like her parents, alcohol soon became her best friend.
Last Christmas, she suffered a miscarriage that broke her heart. Every time she saw a baby, she felt like crying. “Why me?” she often wondered. “What have I done to deserve this?” Guilt was her constant companion.
She decided to leave the life she knew in London behind. She packed a small suitcase with her few possessions and took a flight to Dublin, Ireland to start again, and in doing so, she invaded Julie Hamilton’s world.