I was glad about putting on the clothes I was used to. I had missed the black color. Its inconspicuousness had always given me a certain amount of safety, which run-of-the mill colors didn’t during my journey. Instead, they had made me feel even more conspicuously. Now, my dark turtleneck sweaters, skinny jeans and sneakers had me back again.
After I had changed and freshened up, I went to the kitchen to see whether the Father was still crying or had calmed down. I was relieved to see a smile on his face, when I entered.
“I thought maybe you would like to drink something warm after this long day of travelling,” he said, pointing at a cup on the kitchen table. Fine white patches of smoke rose from the receptacle.
I sat down on a chair and gladly accepted the drink. My fingers clutched the white porcelain. Immediately, I felt the heat getting through the cup, warming my hands. Carefully, I blew on it. I could smell the lovely scent of cocoa. It was absolutely wonderful. Smiling, I looked at Father Michael. He had found his solicitude again very quickly. He knew exactly what would do me good. While I took a nip of my hot chocolate we didn’t speak. Our eyes were all we needed to communicate with each other. It was easy for me to understand how happy and relieved the Father was about having me back. When I had emptied my cup, I sighed. “That was good,” I said, licking my lips with great relish.
Father Michael grinned, looking at me. “Do you want some more, Ada?” he asked.
I shook my head. “No, thanks. Maybe later,” I said.
Father Michael nodded and stood up. Full of expectation, he looked down at me, holding his hand out towards me. “Come. Let’s go to the living room. It’s far more comfortable. I know how much you like it there,” he said.
Willingly, I put my hand in his and followed him.
My eyes widened, when I entered the living room. Father Michael watched me closely as I was admiring his surprise. He had turned the living room into a Christmassy paradise. In the middle of the room, there was a Christmas tree that reached to the painted ceiling. It was decorated with numerous small yellow lights and golden baubles and stars. With my mouth wide open, I stood in front of the tree, trying to see its top. I felt like a child standing in front of a skyscraper. I turned to the right and saw more Christmassy glitter. On the coffee table, there was a wooden pyramid. Its small white candles were burning. Their warm air current made the pyramid’s wings rotate. Next to it there was a plate with oranges, walnuts and gingerbread. I looked around and discovered burning candles and shiny baubles in every corner of the room. I also saw wood carvings, showing the reason why we celebrate Christmas. I noticed a wonderful smell – cinnamon, my favorite spice.
“That’s so…,” I began to say, spinning round with outstretched arms in front of the Christmas tree.
“Do you like it?” Father Michael asked, closing the door.
I stopped and looked at him. “Are you kidding me? It’s wonderful!” I cried and ran across the room to take a close look at the things. This was just incredible! Where did he get all these things? And how come he knew about me loving Christmas that much? But what was even more remarkable was that he had expected me to come back in time to see all that.
Next to the wooden nativity play I stopped and looked over to the Father. My thoughts must be written all over my face, as he suddenly said: “I hoped you’d be here with me. I wished to see your face, when you see it for the first time. Every day, I prayed for that moment.” Slowly, he came over to me. When he stood next to me, he took my hand, squeezing it tightly. “On Christmas Eve, I stood at the door and stared out into the night, hoping you’d come back to me. But all I could see was the snow falling softly to the ground. To me, it was no real Christmas until you walked through the door,” he said with tears in his eyes.
Lost in thoughts, I watched him for a moment. Then, I had to grin.
“Why do you laugh?” the Father asked.
“A thought just crossed my mind. This is what they call a Christmas miracle, right?” I said, winking at him.
Father Michael smiled, blinking away the tears. “It’s my Christmas miracle for sure.” He pulled me into his arms and placed a kiss on my head.
Snuggled up in a blanket, I lay on the sofa, waiting for the Father to come back with another cup of cocoa. It didn’t take long and soon he put two cups on the table in front of us. He peeled an orange for me and cracked some walnuts. I was spoilt good and proper. It was great! We talked about what had happened over the last weeks. He wanted to hear everything about my trip. I had to tell him every little detail. At first, I wasn’t sure whether I really should tell him everything, as I was afraid of hurting and showing him something he wanted himself. After all, I knew exactly how jealous and envious I had been, when he had told me of the few moments he had shared with his daughter. But every time I faltered and hesitated to speak, he encouraged me to continue. I did it for his sake. I never saw a sign of envy as far as he was concerned. He was really glad for me. I felt ashamed that I had given rise to jealousy. But that was over now. We both had had some time with our daughter and any resentment died away.
I also told him of the letter I had left behind for her, so she could read it one day and understand all that had happened. Father Michael said he would have done the same.
Suddenly, I startled and stormed out of the living room. I ran to my bedroom and rummaged through my backpack, which already was in my wardrobe. When I found what I had been looking for, I held it up triumphantly.
“What on earth has gotten into you?” Father Michael yelled.
I whirled around and saw him standing in the doorway, looking at me furiously. I didn’t consider I could give him a fright with my behavior. I smiled innocently, looking at the piece of paper in my hands. Hesitating, I went over to him. I didn’t dare to move faster than a turtle, fearing I could scare him again. “I had already forgotten about this,” I said, unfolding the piece of paper and showing it to him.
The angry wrinkles on his forehead vanished as soon as he saw what was on it. His mouth opened with astonishment and he gently looked at the small imprints of his daughter’s hands and feet. Father Michael looked at me, tears in his eyes. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t need to. I knew exactly how he was feeling. He took my hand and led me back to the living room. Determined, he went to the ancient desk and opened a drawer. Immediately, he found a small glass casket. Its rims were set with yellow and blue crystals. He placed the casket on the desk, opened the lid and put the piece of paper inside. The golden spring lock softly clicked, when the glass safe was closed again. Then, he took it into his hands. Together, we went over to the shelf, filled with numerous bibles, and put the casket between two splendid and richly decorated copies. Carefully, he positioned the glass box and also aligned the bibles. It was as if he wanted them to protect our child. He fiddled around until he was satisfied. Then, he stood back, put an arm around me and we looked at the colorful imprints on the paper, both lost in our own thoughts. After a few moments, we returned to the sofa, sat down and talked some more, looking at the glass casket on the other side of the room. When all was said and done, I yawned and leaned on Father Michael.
“Sleep, my love,” he whispered, putting an arm around me.
I laid my head on his chest and inhaled his scent. I felt another warm wave rolling over me, which made me feel being at home. The Father suddenly began to hum a sweet melody, singing me a lullaby. At least, I thought it was one. I didn’t know the language in which he sang, but it was really beautiful. His art of singing surprised me. I didn’t know he was such a good singer. Was there anything he couldn’t do? He fought with a soldier’s precision. He was a great cook and now it turned out he was also a fantastic singer. How can someone be so perfect?
“I hate him,” I thought. “No, I love him.” Smiling, I listened to his gently, nice-sounding voice. Soon, I fell asleep. I was happy, satisfied and stuffed. What a wonderful life.