“This one Mommy!”
“Are you sure Andy? There are some nice brown and black ones over here-“
“No Mommy, it has to be yellow.”
“Why is that sweetheart?”
“Because God told me so.”
Michael hated the color yellow. Yellow was a sign of being a coward, something his dad had made all too clear to Michael a week before…
“You should have stood your ground and fought!”
“Carl, he’s only ten, and the other three boys were bigger than-“
“Shut up! I’m talking to the boy.” The choking smell of alcohol had filled Michael’s nostrils as his father grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him to his face.
“No son of mine is going to be a sissy wimp. It’s all them teddy bears in your room. And you know what they made you? A coward. A stinkin’ yellow coward!”
Michael had stumbled backward when his father released the iron grip on his collar.
Seizing the opportunity, Michael had dodged past the giant and ran as far away from the tattered brown mobile home as he could.
When Michael had finally crept back home later that night, his father was gone. And to Michael’s horror, his treasured teddy bear collection was gone too.
“Michael, Mrs. Granger wants to take you kids somewhere. Git your sister ready and go. I have a headache.”
“Sure Mom; why should we spend Christmas Day together?” Michael pulled little Brooke’s coat around her, zipping it up to her neck.
Anywhere would be better than here. As always, there were no presents under a nonexistent tree, no decorations, no dinner. Michael knew it was the same story for most of the kids in the area.
“Merry Christmas Michael and Brooke! I got a surprise for you.”
“Hey Mrs. Granger,” Michael muttered to the elderly woman. “Merry Christmas.” Whatever that means.
“I hope we’re not late.” Mrs. Granger turned her clattering station wagon into the already full parking lot of the small town community center.
“You two wait right here. Let me get them.”
Michael pulled the awed Brook against the wall, gazing around at the packed room. He noticed all the kids with small, decorated boxes, glowing over the contents. Michael cringed when Mrs. Granger returned with two balanced on her frail arms, the words “Operation Christmas Child” wrapping the bright green edges.
“You know I ain’t got any more money than anyone else around here, but I wanted this Christmas to be special for you two. So when I heard about this program, I knew I had to sign y’all up. Merry Christmas!”
The thought of taking the sissy looking box caused Michael to pull back as if he’d been slapped. But Mrs. Granger was happier than he had ever seen her, and Brooke was already opening the lid to her box.
“Oh Mikey, look!” Brooke held up her treasure, a baby doll in a pink dress. Just what Brooke had wanted.
No way the box could have what I want. Michael reluctantly took it.
Removing the lid, Michael felt his breath knocked out of him. Sitting on a pile of school supplies was a bright yellow teddy bear. Michael wanted to throw the box into the wall.
Sissy. Yellow coward!
A white envelope lying beside the teddy bear caught Michael’s eye as he angrily wiped away a tear.
Ripping open the envelope in dull curiosity, Michael scanned over the wobbly hand written card.
Hi. My name is Andy and I’m seven years old.
I wanted to make this box for you just the way God wanted me to. He told me to buy a yellow teddy bear for you. I don’t know why, but I guess you do.
Yellow is a happy color. Jesus wants us to be happy. Do you know Jesus? If you want a special kind of happy, you should meet Jesus.
God wants you to know that He loves you. That’s why I made you this box to tell you that.
“Michael, honey? You all right?” Mrs. Granger’s voice was close.
Michael just nodded, letting his tears soak into the yellow fur of his new teddy bear. A bright glow started in the pit of Michael’s stomach, and began working its way upward.
Maybe yellow wasn’t such a bad color after all.
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