That's right. Wait 'til you read her story. The queen won the November/December Writing Contest by sharing a Christmas memory. Here you go. It will also appear in the OUR VOICES section of BWS.
The Christmas I Learned to Love
I was furious, but in my defense, ten years old. I can still see the blue skirt in my mind. It was such an ugly thing.
There it was … the largest box under the tree. The largest box with MY name on it! I just knew it was the beautiful, soft white coat I had asked for earlier that week. With growing anticipation and excitement, I slid my chubby fingers under the tape and with a “slit, slit, slit,” I had the tape and paper off both ends. I did notice the extra tape which meant Mother had probably caught on to my present “previews.” But even knowing this, I was still determined to see what was inside. They were my presents, so why not open them a little bit before Christmas? Where’s the harm? I always told myself I would act just as surprised come Christmas morning.
I sat there in shock and disbelief. What I pulled out was the ugliest skirt I had ever seen. It was black and blue plaid, was this coarse, natty material, and weighed a ton. That was why I though it was a coat. I wanted to tear it into shreds. How dare they! Did they really think I would go out in public wearing something that resembled a rug? Had my parents lost their minds? This monstrosity also had pleats. AND…even worse, it was homemade. I was devastated. I wrapped the ugly thing back up and slid it back into its place of prominence under the tree. So much for Christmas, I thought.
That night I went to bed full of resentment. I laid there thinking about all of the things I had done the past month to be a “good” girl. And all for this? One lousy present and it was something that would make me look stupid? My thoughts were evil ones. Then I heard voices coming from the living room and it sounded like arguing. I tiptoed to the closed bedroom door and leaned in to hear what the fuss was all about. I heard my Daddy raising his voice in anger and bitterness, which was totally out of character for him. I was shocked and didn’t dare breathe; I had to hear what was being said on the other side of the door.
“I feel like a failure! I wanted the girls to have such a great Christmas this year honey, but there just isn’t any work out there. Construction work is down everywhere, and I’m lucky to have brought home the money I did. I feel so bad for our girls. And for you. I have nothing for you. I’m so sorry!” I could almost feel Mother’s arms going around him as she said, “James, you know that family is the most important thing in this world, and look at what all we have now! We have our home, our health, and these wonderful five girls, and each of them has a gift under the tree. Our dear friend Lida Mae had lots of material left over from her other customers so she made a skirt for each of the girls for free. You cannot help it if you’re out of work. It will turn around, you just wait and see. Honey, I love you, and you ARE my present. Now, let’s pray together, okay?” And then I heard my parents lift their voices to God in thankfulness for all that we had, and for the ultimate gift, Christ, His son, who died for our sins.
I never told my parents that I overheard their conversation that night. As a matter of fact, I’ve never told anyone, until now. When I opened the large box the next morning, it was with much tenderness. It wasn’t with the furor I usually displayed getting to the prize inside. I was savoring the moment, full of love and new understanding of the sacrifices my parents made for me and my sisters, and also knowing that ultimately, every sacrifice was for us, their beloved children, and our well being. Just like God.
As I opened the big box, I remember thinking this was the most beautiful skirt I’d ever seen in my life. I hugged it, and held the skirt close to my heart. It became a symbol of my parent’s devotion and love for me, and for each other.
I grew up that Christmas. I learned a lot about what matters, and what doesn’t. I had been given the gift of understanding … and for the first time in my young life, I understood love.