The house was finally quiet, except for muffled voices coming from the kitchen where preparations for breakfast had already begun. Preparing food for so many guests from the east would take some time. John and Sara reclined at a small table facing the living room fire, alone. Sara had tucked herself under John’s arm, and though they both should be sleeping, they were not. The adrenaline was still high from the evening’s event, and, in addition, there before them on the table was a gift.
It was a large gift and it had been given to them personally by Melchior, with the slyest of smiles. They had set it on the table at the time because no time existed at that moment to enjoy it. Now, with all the visitors gone, and all the guests staying over sleeping, they were ready to see what he had brought for them. They had expected nothing, but then, no one there that evening had expected anything.
The wrapping was a deep red velvet bag trimmed in white fur with a woven sliver cord drawn together at the top in a bow. John asked softly, “Shall we open it?” “Of course!” answered Sara smiling, sitting up and reaching for the bow that sparkled in the firelight. She untied the cord and widened the mouth of the bag. As the sides dropped Sara let out a muffled gasp. There before them on the table was the combined scene of the story they had heard that night. The cave stable was carved out of a large piece of olive driftwood, and in the center, resting in a small wooden manger filled with threads of gold material, was the newborn baby Jesus. Behind Jesus were Mary and Joseph and Balaam, Omi’s donkey. Surrounding him to the front were Melchior and his two friends, Yoshi and his dad, and Omi and her brothers. Two angels in white robes were perched on the “roof” of the stable, and above the entire scene, attached to a branch stump of the driftwood, was a star of woven silver. All the figures were carved from ivory and robed in the finest of cloth. It was exquisite and carried a value far above what they could imagine.
Sara was overwhelmed with emotion as she viewed the gift through the tears in her eyes. It was only then that she realized that John had missed all but the final part of the story. She began to relate the entire tale to him, using the ivory figures to punctuate to narrative. As she finished, she fell back into his shoulder and John began to pray.
“In the beginning was the Word…”