The Christmas tree lights danced on the face of the sleeping old man, highlighting furrows of age and smudges of sorrow.

This was his first year without his wife … it seemed longer somehow. She always bought the presents, wrapped them with a beautiful bow, and laughed with her tinkling laugh at his protestations that he didn’t need anything. This year there were no presents … and no laughter.

A tear silently slid from his eye while he slept. Santa gently wiped the tear away. “Old friend,” he thought. “I wish I could bring her back for you, but there are some presents even I can’t deliver”.

The next morning, as I bustled around the room, waking the old man for his breakfast, I discovered a beautifully wrapped present under his Christmas tree. “Open it”, I said.

The old man gently undid the bow, and peeled back the wrapping paper. As he ran his fingers over the soft blanket, the colour of deep chestnuts, he said softly to himself, “I always said her hair was softer than cashmere and her hugs warmer than the warmest blanket”.

I wrapped the blanket around his thin shoulders, enveloping him in its warmth. And I swear I heard tinkling laughter as he quietly stroked the softness of the cashmere.