Again Henry sat staring blankly at Fanny's picture. Then he thought, perhaps his son was right. At any rate he was glad that things looked hopeful on the National front. But how could he forget Fanny's death and Charles' serious injury? Surely God could have prevented these things if he wanted to.
Meanwhile the ever deepening pealing of the bells was heard by the children as they played noisily in the snow, drowning out their screams and squeals of delight. To them the bells said “Christmas is here—enjoy it.” And they did.
The sun kept rising higher and higher in the sky, sending its streaming rays of sunlight through Henry's study window. Some of the beams of sunlight illuminated the newspaper on his desk. He glanced at it once more. As he re-read the hopeful news, he began to feel that perhaps all was not lost. Charles' words of hope came back to him. Perhaps, he thought, war injury and death are not the end after all, as Charles had been trying to tell him. As the bells began to peal even more strongly and loudly, their sound began filling his despairing heart with a renewed sense of hope. He removed the ear muffs and lifted his head again. He now asked himself why he had been so hopeless. As long as God is alive and awake, he told himself, there is hope. Reaching into the waste basket, he pulled out the crumpled up paper and picked up his pen once more. This time he wrote what has become a message of hope for all subsequent generations:
Elated, Henry scribbled a title at top of the page: “Christmas bells.” He then put his pen down and went to the study door. He called to his son Charles, who sat quietly in the living room, the family Bible open on his lap. “O' Charlie, my son, I believe I'm ready to hear about that Chaplain's sermon now. Then I'll show you my latest poem. I have a feeling you'll really like it.”
As best he could, Charles shared with his father the crux of the young chaplain's Christmas message. When he finished, Henry bowed his head once more, but not in despair this time. This time he bowed in surrender to the God he had been fighting. “Oh, Charles, my son, I've been such a fool. If God wanted to take your mother, I guess He must have had a reason—I know he had a reason for allowing you to get shot. If not you might not be here now to share with me that wonderful message. I've been trying to hold on to the past—especially to your mother, whom now I know I may see again in eternity. In doing so, I’ve been missing out on the joy around me now—the joy that all you children can bring me. Oh, Charles, Son, I'm just a crotchety old sinner.”
“Well, Father, that's the first step. Just admit it and then ask Him to save you. It's what He came here to die for.”
Again Henry's head was bowed—this time in prayer for his soul's salvation. When finally he lifted his head, he had a smile on his face from ear to ear. “Call the children” he told Charles. “Tell them to come here. We're going to have the best Christmas we've had in a long time.”
And they did. The children were surprised and pleased to see the change that had come over their father. They opened all the presents and then he turned to Charles and said “Come, let's hitch up the sleigh. We'll go out for Christmas dinner this year. As they rode through the streets on the way to the restaurant, little Edith started to sing a Christmas carol and the rest joined in. They passed under the snow laded trees once more, and as the snow fell on them, they giggled with delight once more. To Henry, it seemed as if the world had suddenly become new again.
They were still laughing when they arrived home. As the children were putting away their coats, little Edith said “I haven't had so much fun in years.”
“Yes,” added Alice Mary, smiling, “you've really changed, Father. What happened?”
Henry smiled and turned to Charles. “I think your brother, Charles is more qualified to answer that than I am. In the meantime, I have a poem to finish.” He skipped lightly toward his study. Entering his study again, he picked up the paper that had the poem he had written. He looked at it for a second and took up his pen again, adding a final verse of hope:
Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
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