By Dianne Marie Andre
There once was a bookstore owner whose wife decked his shop identically every Christmas. She placed three pole lanterns just inside the door, and everyone who entered paused to gaze at their extraordinary glow.
Regular customers understood the meaning of the lanterns, but tourists often merely said, “How charming,” or “How quaint.”
The wooden floor creaked, and books towered so high one needed a ladder to read the spines. Sporadic book spires served as end-cap displays. No one dared remove a single volume for fear the rest would tumble like blocks in a game of Jenga.
One day, something drew a young couple to the three lanterns. The man took the woman’s hand and said, “What is it about these lights that make me feel hopeful when I’ve lost all hope?”
“I don’t know,” replied the woman, “but somehow they seem special.”
The bookstore owner introduced himself. “Those represent the gifts of joy and hope. Why have you lost all hope?”
Sadness crossed their faces. “Our baby girl was stillborn,” the woman whispered.
“I’m very sorry. The tallest of the lanterns represent the daughter my wife and I lost in a car accident fifty years ago, just before Christmas. We, too, felt there was no hope, but we trusted Jesus to somehow comfort us. That Christmas, my wife erected the tallest one to honor our precious child, and we began celebrating her life with the hope that we’d be with her again someday.
“Two years later, my wife gave birth to twins. Jesus had doubled our joy! That year, we decided to honor Him for the two little miracles entrusted to us. Each Christmas since, we have displayed all three lanterns.”
“Is your wife here?” the woman asked. “We’d love to meet her.”
“I’m afraid she passed last year. But before she died she told me the tallest lantern belonged to someone special and that when the time came, I would know who to give it to. I promised I would fulfill her wish. I want you to have it as a reminder of the true Light of joy and hope in your lives.”
“Oh, no, we couldn’t possibly take your lantern,” the man said.
“But you’re the first to understand its purpose. Please help me keep my promise to my wife.”
The following Christmas, the couple returned to the bookstore, the woman carrying a beautiful baby adorned in pink.
The bookstore owner’s face lit up. “Welcome back! And who do we have here?”
“This is Kindle Hope. We wanted you to meet her.”
The man’s eyes widened. “What a fitting name for such a radiant face! My wife and I thought we were the only parents who ever named a daughter Kindle, and we never met another child with that name. How did you know?”
Note: Dianne Marie Andre was inspired to write this fictional story after taking the photo of the three lanterns at a local bookstore.