Jeffrey sat amongst the ruins of a Lego wasteland. Cross-legged his head rested in the palm of his left hand while the right pushed the coloured bricks around. An air of despondency hung over his shoulders.
Samuel toddled in, noticing the morose figure in the desolate playground. “It’s Christmas, Jeffrey, and you’re sitting there like you lost your favourite toy.”
“I’ve got some bad news.”
Samuel sat cross legged in front of his friend. “What happened?”
“My Big Sister said that if I wasn’t good then I wouldn’t get any presents from Santa. Instead, I would find potatoes in my stocking on Christmas morning.”
Quiet tut-tut noises came from Samuel. Jeffrey continued his tale of misery.
“It got me to thinking. Have I done enough good things to balance out all the bad things I’ve done this year?”
“Well, let’s make a list of the good things and the bad things you have done,” suggested Samuel. “I’ll count while you tell.”
“Right,” said Jeffrey. “This year there was the time I cut Big Sister’s Barbie doll’s hair. I swear she said it would grow back. Then there was the time I flushed Mum’s lipstick down the toilet.” He rubbed his backside in sympathetic memory.
“Another time I broke Grandma’s favourite sugar bowl. I was being ever so careful but the carpet tripped me up. Last week I was drawing all over Dad’s papers on his desk. I didn’t know they were exam papers he was marking. And I got into trouble for pulling apart one of my books. I wanted to use the pictures to go on my wall. It was an honest misunderstanding. How many is that?”
“Count my fingers.”
“One, two, three, four, five.”
“So, you need five or more things to put things in your favour,” said Samuel.
The pondering took some time as Jeffrey trawled through his memory banks.
“I help Dad wash the car, so that’s a good thing. When Mummy comes home from the shops I help put away the groceries. I remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thankyou’ most of the time. And when Big Sister is watching television I let her choose the program,” conclude Jeffrey.
“That’s four. What if you packed up all your toys without being asked? Surely that counts for something,” suggested Samuel.
“It’s worth a try.”
Dragging over the plastic tub, Jeffrey plonked the plastic bricks one by one, a furrowed brow still lingering.
“But what if I haven’t done enough? I’m not sure I have.” Jeffrey sank to the floor, resting his head in his hands.
Samuel wandered away to give his friend some space to think. He stopped at the coffee table in the corner.
“What’s this over here with the baby and the people with tea towels on their heads?”
“Mum says that’s the baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph and the shepherds and some wise guys,” said Jeffrey. “They have something to do with Christmas, but I forget what Mum said. I think she said that it was about the true meaning of Christmas.”
Samuel had a brainwave. “What if we ask the baby Jesus? Mum is always saying you can ask Jesus. Couldn’t hurt.”
The boys knelt down beside the nativity scene, screwed their eyes tightly shut, hands folded in supplication and prayer.
“Dear Baby Jesus,” said Jeffrey. “I was wondering if you would be able to put a good word in for me with Santa. Amen.”