Nathan rode briskly to the Seminole village. It was Christmas and he was looking forward to seeing rain.
He had tried to explain the white man's celebration of Christmas, but he wasn't sure if she fully understood it at all. How do you explain a single day that has so many traditions and beliefs attached to it? He had told her about the Nativity and about the Three Wise Men and their gifts. He had told her about Christmas on the plantation, and what he knew of Mexican Christmas traditions. She had smiled and listened attentively, but he knew it was a lot for a body to take in all at once, so he finally just gave up.
As he entered the village, it was quiet, but no more than usual. There was none of the fuss and celebration of Christmas here, and daily life went on as normal. The fact that it was like this in the village did not surprise him. What did surprise him a little was the stark contrast between the mundane quiet of the village and the Christmas bustle of the town. He suddenly felt even more gladdened to be here.
He paused at Rains small adobe home, and smiled. She seemed to be expecting him, for here was the only trace of Christmas revelry. A piece of red ribbon had been tied in a bow and tacked to the door.
The door opened almost immediately at his knock. Rain stood there, in a calico dress. To Nathan, she looked as lovely as she always did. She smiled brightly, took his hand, and drew him into the room. It was warm inside and smelled of cinnamon and hot chocolate.
"Would you like something to drink?" Without waiting for an answer, she brought him a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
"Thank you." He smiled and looked into her large, brown eyes. He was almost lost in them, when he snapped out his reverie. He put down the cup and reached into his jacket. "Merry Christmas."
Her eyes sparkled as she carefully opened the rectangular package. It was a hand mirror in a wooden frame. "It's beautiful," she whispered.
Nathan swallowed. "So you can see how beautiful you are," he said softly.
She smiled up at him gratefully. She put the hand mirror on the table and picked up a small parcel wrapped in brown paper. "I made this for you."
Nathan opened the package with the gentle touch of a healer. He held up a fringed leather pouch. It had been trimmed with beads and hung from a leather cord.
"It's a medicine bag," she explained. "It brings you health and protection. The things in a medicine bag are selected specially for the man who carries it."
He poured the contents into his hand. Among the items was an animal's tooth Nathan figured to a wolf's, what appeared to be a bear claw, a piece of buffalo horn, and a small eagle feather. There were also a few small crystal-like stones. One in particular caught his eye. It was a little bigger than a pea and had beautiful shades of deep blue and pale pink throughout.
He held it up. "Where did you get this one?"
She smiled and explained how she had found one very special place that had a small quantity of such stones.
Nathan listened carefully. He knew of the place, but it was quite a far distance from here. He looked at her in surprise.
"That's pretty far, all right! You didn't walk all that way, didja?"
Rain smiled broadly. "That is part of the gift."
Rain understood Christmas all right. She understood it very well. Better'n most folks, he thought.