Ansel Nordquist steadied himself against the cold night wind. Tightly gripping his gold-knobbed cane, he stared at the bright and lovely things in the Saks Fifth Avenue window. "What to get?" he asked himself. He needed to buy only one present, but it had to be perfect. Perfect. Just right. And time was running out.

Snowflakes, thick and fluffy, tumbled through the air. In the street beside him, a dapple-gray horse with steaming breath pulled a carriage of young lovers beneath the stars and twinkling Christmas lights.

Busy shoppers scurried by, feet crunching in the new-fallen snow. Faintly, he heard the ting...ting...ting of The Salvation Army bell. The air was heavy with freshly cut pine mixed with the smell of hot popcorn from the street vendor's cart.

A gleeful toddler squealed, "Hurry, Mommy! Come on! Come on!" He tugged hard at his mother's skirt, pulling her from the boring windows filled with gowns and jewels and furs to the exciting windows, down the street, loaded with wondrous toys.