It had been a quiet time around the house, unusually quiet since my wife and children were off visiting grandmother for several weeks. Unfortunately I couldn’t get away to go with them and was missing them.
Right then the doorbell rang, it was just such a quick ring I wasn’t sure that I had heard it and then ja, there it is again.
I answered the door and there was an old man there, very old. He was smiling and nodding and I got a really good feeling about him. However he did not say anything and I got the impression he didn’t speak my language.
He was holding a very large suitcase that he had with him. It was almost as big as he was. He put the suitcase down and shoved it in my direction.
I didn’t know what to think of it but I took the suitcase - it seemed like he wanted me to take it. And that was that. I took it and smiled.
I almost couldn’t believe I was taking a suitcase from a man I didn’t know and couldn’t speak to but he seemed so nice about it so I took it in the house and I looked at it more closely. I was surprised to see, on the side of the suitcase I hadn’t seen, that it had some writing on it like small signs and they were both very odd.
The one at the top reminded me of something you’d write on a gift. It said: Do not open until Christmas. There was a smaller sign underneath but it was quite prominent even though it was smaller and it said: If Christmas is late push this button.
Now you have to admit that was a baffling thing to read and I was, I don’t mind saying, totally baffled.
I couldn’t imagine Christmas being late for one thing and for another thing it seemed so strange and I wondered what would happen if you pushed the button.
I didn’t know what to do and I had a feeling a friend might be playing a joke on me. So I took the suitcase and stuffed it in a closet and basically forgot about it.
Almost a week later, around the middle of December, I was getting prepared for Christmas and had the tree all set up though not decorated yet and I heard a sort of ding, ding, ding sound.
I knew that I didn’t have an alarm that sounded like that. All my alarms buzzed or the radio would come on or something like that but this was actually like a chime.
Ding, ding, ding. I didn’t know what that was. I looked around the house. I wondered whether it was coming in from outdoors. I went outside but couldn’t hear it from there so it wasn’t coming in from a neighbors house.
I continued to hear it, ding, ding, ding. So I walked around the house until I noticed the sound got louder. It was coming from a closet and I opened the door.
Sure enough, it was the suitcase - ding, ding, ding. I took the suitcase out and put it on the living room floor not far from the tree and looked at it while it continued to ring slightly, chiming ding, ding, ding. Then it would pause. Then ding, ding, ding again.
I reached out and touched the suitcase near the button with the sign that said about pushing it in case Christmas was late but I didn’t touch the button.
The moment I touched the suitcase in that area the dinging stopped and a voice came out of the case much to my amazement.
It didn’t exactly sound recorded because it had a deep full sound like a good stereo system has but it didn’t sound like there was a person in there either, if you know what I mean. It didn’t sound like real life.
The voice said, “Christmas is coming soon. Please press the Reset button on the side of the suitcase.”
I was startled again but I looked around the side of the suitcase and sure enough there was a small button there that said: Reset. I pressed it and the voice said, “Thank you.”
I have to admit, I still thought someone was playing a grand joke on me.
So you know, Christmas time is busy and I got busy again and put the suitcase away in the closet.
Long about Christmas Eve day I woke up and so did the rest of the family, I was so glad that they were back. Of course we were all happy to be together and the children were excited because on Christmas Eve we opened maybe one or two gifts and then waited til Christmas morning to open everything else before we went to church.
The day went well until the strangest thing happened to us. We had a few calls from relatives and friends but right around 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon we all got very sleepy which was not typical for us.
My son Ronny, my daughter Cindy and my wife Linda and I got so sleepy we decided we just better go lay down for a while and have a nap. We woke up and it was light so I thought it was still daytime, It seemed like it was about 4:30 or 5:00.
Everybody else thought so too, it seemed like a short nap. We were smiling as we went downstairs as we were thinking about opening a gift when I happened to glance at the clock. It was a big grandfather clock in the hall and instead of showing 4:30 like I thought it would, the time was 7:30. I looked a little closer. It was clearly 7:30 AM.
At first I thought we’d somehow slept right through Christmas Eve and it was Christmas day but I looked at my watch calendar and it was the morning of December 24th - Christmas Eve day again.
Everybody got upset and a little frightened and then much to my amazement I heard it - ding, ding, ding.
A chill ran up my spine. Not so much fear as a chill from the unexpected. My wife and kids looked at me with questions in their eyes that they didn't know how to ask for a moment. The suitcase had come and I had reset it and everything when no one else was at home but the whole experience was so odd that I’d basically just shoved it into the closet and forgotten about it.
No one knew what it was except me. I went right over to the closet and pulled out the suitcase and brought it out into the living room floor and it was going, every once in a while, ding, ding, ding. Then it would pause. Ding, ding, ding again.
“What is it dad”, said my son Ronny. “Is it a gift for us all?”
My wife Linda stared at it and said, “Where on earth did you get that thing?” I said, “I’ll tell you later. It’s a strange story.” The suitcase chimed in again with its ding, ding, ding.
I found myself staring at that button: If Christmas is late… Right. So press the button, I thought. It seemed pretty wild but I figured well, if someone’s having a joke on me I’ll play along.
I pressed the button and the dinging stopped. The voice came out of the suitcase again and said, “Thank you.” Suddenly the suitcase unlocked itself and started to open.
My wife and kids and I jumped back a little bit as the suitcase opened up. There was a strange contraption inside with spinning wheels and balls and all kinds of levers and things moving and going back and forth and lights going on and off. It was the strangest thing. I had no idea what it was.
Out of the midst of all that contraption the voice spoke again and it said, “Merry Christmas” and it sounded friendly and we were all kind of surprised. My little daughter Cindy spoke right up. She said, “Merry Christmas to you too” in her cheerful voice.
The voice from the suitcase said, “That’s what I was waiting for, a cheerful answer.”
The voice spoke to her, “Thank you for correcting the time of Christmas. Sometimes the world time needs to be helped and I’m thanking you very much for your efforts.”
Suddenly the doorbell rang and I went and answered it expecting my sister and ready to tell her our wild story about the suitcase but when I opened the door it was the little old man and he had a big smile on his face.
I asked him to come in and he did. He walked right over to my littlest one Cindy and gave her a big smile and she smiled right back.
He then walked over to the suitcase and looked down at it and said to us all, “You’ve done very well.”
I was quite surprised as that was the first thing I ever heard him say. He bent down and folded up the suitcase and picked it up, even though it was almost as big as he was, and started carrying it to the door.
When he got to the door he turned around and said, “ We needed a little help this year so Christmas could come and that help could only come from a happy and innocent child.”
I heard a little jingling sound then and looked down and noticed that he had bells on his shoes. He took out his hat and it had a bell on top too. He smiled as he put it on and said, “Merry Christmas!”
He stepped out the door and before he could leave Cindy ran up to him and gave him a big hug and said, “Merry Christmas, Christmas elf.”
He smiled and ran lightly down the steps carrying the big suitcase as if it was light as a feather and was gone in a flash.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holidays to you all and remember sometimes unexpected gifts can be the greatest of all when they come with kindness and love.