Monday, December 25, 2006

The Miracle Christmas Bear

This is a story about a Christmas miracle. This isn't a traditional or anecdotal story. This is something that happened to us , just last week. This story is true.

We were on a cruise (more about that later). The ship's gift shop was offering a "Christmas bear" that you couldn't buy, but was free with a purchase of $100 or more. Judi wanted this Christmas bear very much. We spent the week on the ship talking about what we wanted from the gift shop, in the way of souvenirs and things, to make the $100 we would need to get the Christmas bear. Then, last Friday, the last day of the cruise, we made our decisions and went down to the gift shop to make our purchases, only to find that...

...there were no Christmas Bears to be seen.

Judi was stricken. "Aren't they offering the bears anymore?" Her voice was sounding panicky. "What am I going to do?" She really wanted a Christmas bear.

I rushed around the shop, looking for a bear. None to be seen. But then Judi found me and whispered, "There's one outside the store. It's sitting on a ledge."

I went outside and found the bear she was talking about. I grabbed it and went back inside. Even if the promotion wasn't still officially running, I hoped for Judi's sake they would let us have this one last bear if we spent more than $100. I found a store clerk and asked, pushing the bear forward, "Are you still offering the free bear with purchase?"

"No," she said, looking up at us, "that's over," then, seeing the bear, she asked sharply, "Where did you get that?"

"Outside the store," I said, still hoping they would let us have it.

"It was on the ledge," said Judi.

And then we heard a voice say:

"That's our bear."

And standing there beside us were two women: One middle aged, blond, pale skinned, wearing glasses, a little frumpy; the other older, no glasses. The middle-aged one with the glasses was speaking:

"That's our bear. We left it on the ledge when we came into the store."

Naturally I was embarrassed. Obviously I had made a mistake. Though my heart sunk, I tried to return the bear to its owners. But the lady with the glasses said, "You can have that bear. Just keep it."

"No," I said, "it's your bear. I didn't mean to take it."

"Well," said the lady with the glasses, "if you don't want it, just put it back on the ledge, and maybe someone else will pick it up."

Say what?

After a lot more confusing talk -- the lady with the glasses didn't seem capable of saying anything directly -- it turned out that the two ladies -- Ann, with the glasses, and June -- had gotten the bear earlier in the week, but that day had "decided between the two of us" to bring the bear back down to the Grand Lobby and find someone to give it away to. But there were too many people around, and they couldn't decide who to give it to, so they left it on the ledge "for someone to find." Ann spoke in a serious and solemn tone, and continually emphasized that giving up the bear was a mutual decision between her and June. She sounded something like a New Ager, at one point saying that the bear was a gift from "us and the Universe." I said, "We thank the two of you and we thank the Universe," and she looked at June and answered, "I thank the Universe every day."

I don't know what was going on with Ann and June. They never explained why they had decided to give up the bear. But consider the coincidence: That these two ladies had a bear, decided for some reason to give it up, and brought it down and left it outside the store just when Judi and I went down looking for a bear and were there to find it. It makes one give serious consideration to believing in angels. Angels with names like Ann and June. It was a miracle.

Christmas Bear
Judi and her miracle Christmas Bear

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