This is my third workshop entry. I'm a bit late this week, but at least I'm here! You've read several of the sadder experiences of The Little Girl, so today I thought I'd share a happy story of love and God's ability to surprise us with amazing gifts.
4.) What's the best gift you've ever gotten/given.
Since I've already told you about the best Christmas present I ever got as an adult in Meet the Kids: Daughter’s Broken Road Home, and I learned that cheating by pulling something from the archives is not a rewarding experience, I'm going to tell you about the best Christmas present a child could receive. Ever:
The little girl sat gazing in awe at the huge, beautiful Christmas tree that had somehow miraculously just appeared overnight in the family room of The House. It was so different from the tree at the foster home. That one had been thin and sort of shabby with lots of handmade decorations. This one was perfectly shaped, just like the ones in magazines, and it was decorated in all red and white with a bright, shining star on the top. Beneath it were beautifully wrapped presents of all shapes and sizes. Mrs. Ethel, the housekeeper and cook, had warned her not to be messing with them, but she was still tempted. She could see the name tags on the ones in the front and not a one of them was hers! She knew that disobeying would make Mrs. Ethel sad, though, so she quickly shoved her small hands under her legs to keep them from getting into what they shouldn't.
Several days that seemed like an eternity later, Christmas morning finally arrived. The rules at The House were different than at the foster home, so there was no tearing into the family room in a mad dash to find one's presents. Instead breakfast had to be finished and morning chores done, just like every day, before the presents could be opened. This was a working ranch, and the cows didn't now or care that it was Christmas; they only new it was painful not to be milked on time. It was one sad little girl who trudged solemnly past the family room, out to the hen house to gather eggs for breakfast at 4:30 a.m.
Three hours later, cows milked, eggs gathered, animals and girls fed, it was finally time to gather in the family room to receive presents. The girls had been told to dress in their Sunday best because a group of ladies from a local church were coming to join in the morning's festivities. The little girl was thrilled because that meant more presents. So lost in her fantasies about what awaited, she lost track of time and was the last one into the family room.
Trying to avoid the House Mother's questioning eye, the little girl crept quietly over to the empty piano bench that one of the older girls had thoughtfully saved for her. Sometimes it was really neat being the youngest girl there. Sometimes. The House Mother introduced the ladies and explained how the opening of the presents would be accomplished and then began passing them out. The little girl was thrilled when she received the first present of the day, given by the red-haired church lady with the beautiful eyes and a kind, sweet smile. Everyone waited while she opened her gift. Socks and underwear.
Socks and underwear?? The little girl opened her mouth to ask where the toys were, but the House Mother, quickly stepped in, picked up the panties and showed the rest of the girls the pretty pink lacy ruffles that were sewn in stripes across the back. Stripes that perfectly matched the lacy pink ruffles on the socks. She then told the little girl to say thank you to the nice lady for such lovely gifts. Grudgingly, the little girl smiled and, choking back tears, said thank you. The rest of the gifts were similar necessities that had been donated by various groups. No toys. No stuffed animals. No fun.
When the last girl had opened the last gift, the ladies said their goodbyes and left 12 very subdued young ladies quietly cleaning up the family room. The red-haired lady caught the little girl's eye and waved sadly as she disappeared out the front door.
Life on the the ranch quickly returned to normal. Each day started and ended the same, so weeks turned into months and months into years without much notice. About the only time anything really different happened for the little girl was when her caseworker, Mrs. W, visited. The bright, enthusiastic woman always brought a little something for her; usually a new coloring book or some hair brads. In September of her second year at the ranch Mrs. W brought good news: she had found a couple who wanted to meet the little girl. Mrs. W said that they had been trying to adopt a little boy, but that had fallen through, so she'd told them about the little girl and Mr. & Mrs. L had agreed to meet her. The little girl didn't allow herself to get too excited. They wanted a boy and she was just a cheap substitute. But it was something different to do, so she agreed to go meet the couple. It turned out to be a good decision.
The first visit went so well that the couple invited her back to stay over a weekend, and the little girl, though still leary about putting too much faith in them, agreed to give it a try. Mrs. W assured her that if things were not comfortable she would come and take her back to the ranch. The weekend flew by so quickly that the little girl never gave a thought one to the ranch until it was time to pack up and head back.
Not wanting to send her back with dirty clothes, Mrs. L was gathering up her laundry when she stopped dead in her tracks, staring at the underwear and socks in her hand.
"Where did you get these?" she asked the little girl.
"They were a Christmas present a couple of years go. They were too big when I got them but now they fit me." The little girl, busy gathering up her belongings, looked up when she heard the woman catch her breath. Mrs. L had tears in her eyes.
"Do you remember who gave you these?" She asked softly.
It was then that the little girl recognized the red-haired church lady with the beautiful eyes and a kind, sweet smile. "It was you! You gave me my first present at the ranch!" said the little girl in amazement.
And that is how God used some socks and underwear to make a family. If the little girl had been given toys they would most likely have been left behind when she came to visit the couple. Had the socks and underwear fit when she'd received them, she would have long since outgrown them. Two and a half years is a long time in a little girl's life, so there would have been nothing to there to jog the memory of that Christmas long ago.
From that moment on, the little girl new that this woman was supposed to be her mother. Gone were the fears of never again belonging. God had made sure she knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that He had personally picked out her new parents. And she never got socks and underwear for Christmas again.