THE CHRISTMAS ORANGE
Jake was a resident of an orphan’s home, one of ten children supported by what contributions the home could secure on a continuous struggle. There was very little to eat, but at Christmas there always seemed to be a little more than usual to eat, and the home seemed a little warmer. It was a time for more than usual enjoyment, but more than this, there was the orange. At Christmas time, each child received an orange; the only time of year that such a rare item was provided… and it was coveted by each child like no other thing they ever possessed. They would save it for several days, admiring it, feeling it, loving it, and contemplating the moment when they would eat it. Truly, it was a “piece de resistance” to the Christmas tide, and the year, for many would wait until New Year’s Day or later to eat it.
This Christmas day, Jake had offended the rules of authority at the home in some manner and his punishment was loss of the orange privilege. After a year of waiting for this rare occasion, and this most desired of all rewards, it was to be denied. The plaintiff’s pleading was to no avail. Although the offense was rather minor, still it was an infraction of such rules that must govern in regulated society. Jake spent Christmas day empty and alone… it even seemed the other children didn’t want to associate with a person who didn’t have an orange.
Night time arrived and this was the worst time of all for Jake; he could not sleep. There could be no God that would permit a contrite little soul to suffer so much by himself. Silently, he sobbed for the future of mankind, and perhaps the world, but mostly because he didn’t have an orange like the other kids had.
A soft hand placed on Jake’s shoulder startled him momentarily and an object was quickly shoved into his hands. The donor disappeared into the dark of the room, leaving Jake with what he did not immediately identify as an orange. Not a regular run-of-the-orange, but one fabricated from segments of nine other oranges. Nine other highly prized oranges that would, of necessity, be eaten this day instead of several days hence.
May we all share a part of ourselves this Christmas season.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
I believe the infraction was that Jake had inadvertently tracked mud into the house, making a mess. Aside from having to clean up the mud tracks, he was also denied his orange.
There are actually several versions of this story. In one, the infraction is not specified; in another, he pushed another boy. There is one in which “Jake” was new to the orphanage; since he wasn’t there when the oranges were ordered, there wasn’t one for him. I like this one best.
Nine children shared his childhood, his lack of loving parents, and the severe lack of a single colossal comfort left waiting for a year; and opened their hearts and thei
r own oranges, to share.