The Best Christmas Ever…

“Sometimes memories sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.”

unknown

Twas the week before Christmas, and the spirit of giving was upon us like a heavily frosted cupcake. The “us” being the children living in an orphanage. I lived on the second floor which housed girls from 5 to 13. All the girls were laughing, and chatting gleefully just like a made for tv movie, where all the children were happy and had parents that loved them.

The first gift was filling index cards with three wishes. They would grant only one. Living in an orphanage can be lonely, scary, and hopeless. Listening to music singing out from the radio took me away and offered a bit of happiness.  All I wanted was a record player. I wrote it three times just to be sure there were no mistakes.. This was the fifties, portable players were not being sold everywhere. I doubted this wish would come true..; it was just a wish. Although I didn’t believe in magic. Waiting in line for meals jostled my innards like small earthquakes, I rushed thru the nightly prayers and added one additional prayer. Oh God, I pleaded, please give me that record player. When the day arrived well-what should appear before my teary eyes, but a small cardboard blue and white record player. I can still see it with its metal circle that held the needle. Which added a tinny sound to the music. I didn’t care. I really loved music,

A very generous man, Bill Savit, owner of Savit jewelry store gave us five dollars. We could spend this on anything we wanted. College school volunteers were happy to share this adventure with us. I remember very little of how I spent my crisp five-dollar bill only how good it felt to be holding money. The volunteers escorted us to downtown New Haven, Connecticut. The streets were brightly lit with Christmas trees on every corner and they decorated the stores with bits of magic here and there. Everything sparkled in the lights that lit the beautiful scenes of toy soldiers standing on guard looking handsome in their brightly colored uniforms and plumed helmets. Santa’s sleigh flying thru the air with all of his reindeers, with gifts almost falling out of the sleigh. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This was a wonder-filled gift.

‘Twas the night before Christmas and throughout the hallways the kids could barely stand in line, or sit in their chairs or say the rosary, and going to bed was a chore .If you really listened, you could hear their worries. Would their parents show up, could they spend the night with them?  But they let hope seep into their happiness. Would their parents someday bring them home for good? Other girls were getting ready to spend the Christmas with total strangers celebrating the holidays. But not me. I refused to go. This was just too painful to be the child outside ,looking in at this scene knowing this would never be my reality. No, I will not go.

So, I was content to celebrate Christmas with the Sisters of Mercy. I fell into a gentle sleep. When I awoke in the morning, I felt something on the foot of my bed. It was a big Christmas stocking filled with candy and small plastic toys. Who did this? I thought the nuns would not do this. Once this stuck in my brain, I believed it must have been Santa Claus.

‘Twas the day of Christmas and this was the best Christmas ever for me.

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