BOBBY

Bobby was getting cold, sitting out there in his back yard, in
the snow.  Bobby didn't wear boots; he didn't like them.  And
anyway, he didn't own any.  The thin sneakers he wore had a
few holes in them, and they did a poor job of keeping out the
cold.

Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already and,
try as he might, he just could not come up with an idea for his
mother's Christmas gift.

He shook his head as he thought, "This is useless.  Even if I do
come up with an idea, I don't have any money to spend."

Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the
family of five had struggled.  It wasn't because his mother
didn't care or try.  There just never seemed to be enough
money.  She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage
she earned could only be stretched so far.

What the family lacked in money and material things, they more
than made up for in love and family unity.

Bobby had three sisters -- two older, and one younger.  They
ran the household in their mother's absence.  All three of his
sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother for
Christmas.

Somehow, it just didn't seem fair.  Here it was, Christmas Eve
already, and he had nothing to give.

Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow, then
walked down the street to where the shops and stores were.

It wasn't easy, being six without a father -- especially when he
needed a man to talk to.

Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated
window. Everything seemed so beautiful, yet so out of reach.

It was starting to get dark, and Bobby reluctantly turned to
walk home -- when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the
setting sun's rays reflecting off something along the curb.  He
reached down and discovered a shiny dime. Never before had
anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment.

As he held his new found treasure, a warmth spread
throughout his entire body, and he walked into the first store
he saw.

His excitement quickly turned cold when salesperson after
salesperson told him that he could not buy anything  with just a
dime.

Then he saw a flower shop, and went inside to wait in line.
When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby
presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for
his mother's Christmas gift.

The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering,
then put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and said, "You wait
here, and I'll see what I can do for you."

As Bobby waited, he looked at the many beautiful flowers and,
even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls
liked flowers so much.

The sound of the door closing, as the last customer left, jolted
Bobby back to reality.  All alone in the shop, Bobby began to
feel alone and afraid.

Suddenly, the shop owner reappeared and moved to the
counter.  There, before Bobby's eyes, lay twelve, long stem,
red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied
together with a big silver bow.

Bobby's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed
them gently into a long white box.

"That will be ten cents, young man,"  the shop owner said,
reaching out his hand for the dime.

Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime.  Could
this be true?  No one else would give him anything for his dime.

Sensing the boy's reluctance, the shop owner added, "I just
happened to have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen.
Would you like them?" This time Bobby did not hesitate.  And
when the man placed the long box into Bobby's hands, he
knew it was true.

Walking out the door that the shop owner was holding open for
Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say,
"Merry Christmas, son."

As he returned inside, the shopkeeper's wife walked out.
"Who were you  talking to back there?  And where are those
roses you were fixing?"  Staring out the window, blinking the
tears from his eyes, he
said, "A strange thing happened to me this morning.  While I
was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a
voice telling me to  set aside a dozen of my very best roses for
a special gift.  I wasn't sure at the time whether I had lost my
mind or what.  But I set them aside anyway.

"Then, just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop
and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with a dime.  When I
looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago.  I too was a poor
boy  with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift.  A
bearded man, whom I  never knew, stopped me on the street
and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars.   When I saw
that little boy tonight, I suddenly realized whose voice that was.
So I put together a dozen of my very best roses."

The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly.  And
as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow
didn't feel cold at all.

                            End Of Document