Billy’s parents needed some time – and space – away from the kids while they tried to work out their problems, so he and his sister, Molly, moved in with Grandma and Grandpa Jenkins for a few months.
The summer passed quickly with days by the lake and warm nights spent chasing fireflies through the pasture of their thirty acre farm. Molly became instant friends with the two daughters of the nearest neighbors. Billy wasn’t so lucky, but he didn’t mind. He loved spending time with Grandpa fixing things and puttering around.
When fall arrived, there had been no word from their parents, so they were enrolled at the local school and flourished in the slower pace and smaller classes. It was nothing like they had in New York City.
Everything was perfect on the farm until winter came. Grandma and Grandpa lived on social security and a little savings, but they had not planned on the kids being there for Christmas.
“It’s okay, Grandma,” Billy said one morning while eating breakfast. “We don’t need any presents. Just being here is enough.”
“Ah, child.” Grandma patted his head and smiled. “You have a good heart but it’s not right. Kids should have presents.”
Billy spent the day thinking about what she had said and disagreed. He and Molly had everything they needed. It was her turn now. When the first snow fell, he knew how he was going to earn money to buy Grandma a gift.
One cold Saturday morning, he slipped out of bed, dressed, and stole the snow shovel off the back porch. He headed down the pebble lane that led out to the main road and walked the four miles to the nearest neighbor.
It was hard work, but he managed to shovel their driveway and be home before noon.
“Where you been with that?” Grandpa scratched his chin as Billy set the shovel back on the porch.
“Just having fun, Grandpa.”
Billy ran upstairs, emptied his pockets, and collapsed on the bed. He never felt more tired or more proud in his life. For the next six weeks he prayed for snow. His prayers were answered six more times before Christmas.
“Santa’s come! Santa’s Come!” Molly shouted before the crows even rose for the day.
Billy rubbed his eyes and smiled. He reached under his bed and pulled out a small wrapped shoe box.
Molly was busy ripping paper off her gift by the time Billy joined them downstairs.
“This is for you and Grandpa.” He smiled and held out the gift. “I wrapped it myself.”
“Oh, my! It’s beautiful, Billy.” Grandma hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. She opened the gift as Grandpa sat beside her and gasped. “How on Earth!”
Billy beamed with pride. “It’s a secret.”
The morning was wonderful and Molly spent breakfast talking to her new doll and reading her new book. Billy changed into his new clothes and checked out all the gadgets on his new pocketknife. Later that afternoon, Grandpa asked Billy for some help in the barn.
“What did you need, Grandpa?”
When Grandpa opened the barn door, it was Billy’s turn to gasp. He screamed when he saw the bright red snowblower waiting for him.
“Thought this might make your job a little easier.”
Billy wiped the tears from his eyes. “But how did –“
“Shh,” Grandpa said. “It’s a secret.”