Blinking Lights and Whispered Words

    “Blinking Lights and Whispered Words,” Ensign, Dec. 1990, 18–19

    Blinking Lights and Whispered Words

    I was dreading Christmas. A painful divorce had left me a single parent of eight children. Memories of past Christmases were just too much for me to handle this year.

    My fifteen-year-old son, Aaron, had a job selling Christmas trees. One cold evening, as I arrived to pick him up after work, he ran to the car. “Mom, come and look at the Christmas tree I’ve found for us.”

    Exhausted from working late, I said, “I can’t tonight. I’m too tired. Maybe tomorrow.”

    “Ahh, Mom. Just come and look at it.”

    I couldn’t resist the enthusiasm in his face, so I followed him through the trees on the lot. I hated to disappoint him, but I knew our financial situation. “Aaron, I’m not sure there will be enough money for a tree.” My statement didn’t faze Aaron’s excitement at all.

    “Mom, you have to see this tree!” He rubbed his hands together for warmth as we walked to the back of the lot. “I kind of pushed it behind these other trees because I didn’t want it to be sold.”

    Then he pulled out the most gorgeous tree I’d ever seen. “Perfect, huh?” Aaron beamed. “Looks just like the ones in all the Christmas pictures, doesn’t it?”

    “It does,” I whispered, as I looked longingly at it. “It’s perfect.” I didn’t dare say anything for a few minutes as I shared Aaron’s dream. Finally, I had to say, “I’m afraid we just don’t have the money for a tree like this.”

    “But Mom, … it’s … it’s … just what we need this year. We’ve just got to have it,” he said. “Wait a second. I’ll be right back.”

    As I waited for Aaron, I touched the pine needles and wished things could be different this year. In a few minutes, he came running around the corner.

    “Mom! It’s ours!” he shouted, out of breath. “My boss gave me $10.00 off, and he’s going to take the rest out of my check.” His breath froze in clouds in the frigid night air as he continued, “But we have to take it tonight. It will be sold tomorrow for sure if we leave it here.”

    We lived ten miles out of town. Our car was small, and the tree was large. I had no idea how we were going to get it home, but I wasn’t worried about it anymore. Now I was as excited as Aaron.

    Laughing together, we loaded the huge tree on our car, poured ourselves a cup of hot chocolate before we left the tree lot, and headed home. I felt warmer and warmer as I drank the hot chocolate and listened to my son chatter endlessly about Christmas trees. I forgot about how tired I was, and for a few minutes I even forgot about my sorrow and enjoyed the moment.

    By the time we got home, it was 11:30 P.M. I pulled into the driveway, but before I could suggest to Aaron that we leave the tree in the garage until the next day, he had already begun to unload it.

    “I can’t wait to see this ‘perfect’ tree in our living room,” he said.

    Ten minutes later, the tree, which took up most of the living room, stood surrounded by the rest of the children, who had been awakened by the commotion. We just sat there in the quiet stillness of the room for about twenty minutes and enjoyed the tree’s piney smell and its beauty—even without a single light or ornament. Then, realizing the time, we slowly headed for bed.

    As Aaron passed me on the way to his bedroom, I stopped him and put my arm around his shoulder. “Thank you,” I said. “You’ve truly brought the spirit of Christmas into our home, and I appreciate it.”

    He grinned, kissed me on the cheek, and bounced down the stairs to bed. “I’ve got to call the bishop tomorrow, Mom,” Aaron yelled. “I’ll bet he’s never seen a tree as perfect as this one.”

    By the time I arrived home the next evening, the children had put our collection of Christmas-tree lights all over the tree. They were blinking off and on as I came into the house. I wept as I realized how much I had to be thankful for.

    Later that evening, we decorated the tree with special ornaments from years past and a few new ones we could afford. Together, we sang Christmas carols as we draped the delicate silver icicles over the tree limbs. We all felt the spirit of Christmas—the giving, sharing, and sacrificing for those we love.

    That night after the children were in bed asleep, I turned out all of the lights in the house except the blinking lights on the Christmas tree. Then, as I sat in the living room and enjoyed the peace of that quiet room, something happened that I will never forget. Each time the lights blinked on and off, I heard the whispered words, “I love you, Mom; I love you, Mom; I love you, Mom.”

    Illustrated by Paul Mann