True Christmas By Anabelle Lael.

Captain Gregg slowly looked at all the faces of the people he cherished, seated at the table.

Warmth, peace and love radiated from every corner of Gull Cottage on this snowy Christmas Eve.

Jonathan and Candy were on their second helping of pumpkin pie while Martha stacked up the dinner dishes that would be cleaned later on.

Even Carolyn looked more ravishing than ever with the candlelight shimmering in her emerald green eyes.

It amazed him how finally he understood what his dear mother had tried to explain to him on a Christmas Eve, such as this, many, many years ago..........

Daniel sat in the kitchen eating fresh baked bread. At his tender age of ten, he savored every bite and knew that the world could not be any better.

" Daniel love, slow down the bread is not going any where."

" Oh mother, I can not help myself. Nothing tastes as good as your bread with butter dripping down the sides of it."

Daniel's mother laughed and kissed him on the top of his head," You truly have a way about you young man. You will probably have to fight your way through the rows of young ladies that will fall at your feet."

" Mother, you know you will always be my one and only true love," Daniel said with a twinkle in his sea blue eyes.

" As I predicted a charmer just like your father," Mrs. Gregg laughed.

" Mother speaking of father, why has he not come home yet?".

" Daniel how can you forget. He always arrives a little late on Christmas Eve."

" I know and I do not understand why it has to be this way every year! I thought maybe this year he would forget the " tradition" and come straight home."

" Daniel you must not complain, He is only trying to bring a little joy into the lives of those who may not be able to accomplish it otherwise."

" But mother does he not realize that we need him here and besides we should come first."

His mother looked at him sternly and asked him to sit by the fireplace and by her side.

" Daniel you are becoming a young man with each passing day and I want you to truly try to understand."

" Your father is a man of great heart. Each year at this time he revises his ship's logs. He looks for the names of the families that have lost a loved one under his command. Once he knows who they are your father makes sure, that on such a special night, that they have plenty to eat and gifts for the young ones."

" He feels it is his way of repaying those men that had served him well and so honorably."

" Mother it is just that I miss him so when he is on his voyages..... We need him also. He has a family of his own to take care of."

" Daniel love you must realize that we are very fortunate, for the very reasons you just mentioned before. We are fortunate for the simple reason that he does return to us. These other children and families will never feel the warmth of their father's touch or hear the roar of their laughter."

" Daniel your father knows that the true meaning of Christmas is family and the giving of ourselves to each other."

" He stays with them only for a short while to try to help them feel whole again. He feels that the warmth and love we feel in the presence of those we love and those that care for us is a gift that is truly priceless.'

" I know that it is at times difficult for you to understand all of this but Daniel when you have one day a family of your own I want you to think back to my words, then you shall see what your father felt all those years ago."

" Mother I promise that I shall remember."

Just then they both felt a quick cold breeze coming from the door, for father had finally come home.

As he dusted the snow from his shoulders and hat he shouted cheerfully, " Now where could my family be hiding?".

Mrs. Gregg and Daniel stood up and ran straight into the warmth of his embrace.

" Elizabeth, Daniel I can not express what I am feeling at this moment...... I give thanks from the very bottom of my heart for this joy."

" Absolutely nothing in this world, even the greatest riches, can not compare with what we have, for we have each other and we are a family and there can never be a greater gift on this and every Christmas Eve."

Tenderly he kissed his wife on the cheek and led his precious family into the diningroom to enjoy their Christmas dinner..........

Yes , now he knew, for he Captain Daniel Gregg was now seated at the table with his family...... His family, he had thought that the that this possibility had been forever denied him , until Carolyn....

She had swept into his life like a gale storm but instead of scattering things to the wind she had lovingly put everything in the right place by giving hin her love and by providing him a family.

Tenderly he placed his strong hand over Carolyn's smaller one," Carolyn I can never repay you."

" Repay me for what?", Carolyn looked at him puzzled.

" For giving me my most treasured possession and one that I had yearned for with my every breath, you gave me a family to cherish and love."

Carolyn leaned closer and brushed her fingertips across his rugged cheek," Daniel I am the one that should thank you for we've always been in the recesses of your mind and heart, you just bought us to life."

They both stared at each other until Carolyn said , " Merry Christmas Daniel."

" Merry Christmas My Dear and may this be only the beginning of all the Christmases that are yet to be..........."

The End.