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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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Unprecedented Gifts

Unprecedented Gifts
Dan Dodge

“Christmas, what a joke it was. We had to spend time with people who are doing it for the money, only.” Ten-year-old Lily, a forever shelter resident, opened the visited home’s solitary gift to her.  The sweater was just another disappointment. Its scratchy low-end material was not the shirt’s worst offense. Sized much too small, the loathsome offering was useless.

Lily’s defiance reached the ears of Saren, standing nearby. She was close to Lily’s age, but tiny and a mere skin and bones compared to Lily’s tall, willowy shape.

“Oh Lily, you are smart, talented, and beautiful. Don’t be unhappy. Maybe my New Year’s resolution will come true.”

Lily scoffed at Saren’s remarks. But deep down, the kind words smoothed a bit of the sharp edges of life’s disappointments. ‘I know Saren’s holiday was as much of a disaster as mine.’

 The children were parceled out to foster homes on Christmas Eve so the staff could spend a warm and loving holiday with family. Places, hard to come by on Christmas, resulted in bottom of the barrel results. Watching families unwrap gifts while Morgan House children received the barest, if anything, was more than depressing.

Abandoned at birth, Lily’s care was merely custodial. A child, who never receives the fondness of a smile, never offers one.

Saren, removed from years in relatives’ abusive homes, was assigned to the Morgan House. The shelter, although cold and restrictive, was a safe haven for her.

Lily tossed the useless gift to Saren. “See if it fits you?”

As the much thinner little one pulled the Charlie Brown top over her head, squeals of delight vocalized.” Thank you so much. I love it. You are so good to me.”

‘I can’t believe that stupid shirt would make anyone happy.’

What was your New Year’s Resolution, Saren? “

“Well, it was really not a resolution but a wish. I hoped that someday soon you and I would visit a home where we would be surprised with presents and yummy food.”

Lilly looked at Saren’s optimism, not with anger but with deep sadness.  ‘That’s certainly not going to happen.’ A puzzling reaction caused a larger crack in Lily’s negative shield.

‘Saren is worth much more. She’s warmhearted but so naive. Why can’t I make her wish come true? Shouldn’t I at least try?’

Her talent with words compelled residents and staff to make the effort. At first many were dubious but as ideas flowed, so did the enthusiasm.

Paul, at ten, was recognized for his sorrowful bully reputation. What a surprise it was to everyone, especially Paul, himself, when he offered a perfect plan.   Both he and Lily composed and printed a brief note along with a request. The cook contributed her chocolate chip recipe along with samples. The manager, Mrs. Lawrence bought decorative gift bags,

residents went from house to house recounting the compelling story about Saren, noting the young girl never experienced a party.

The neighborhood responded with magnanimity beyond belief.   Everything an eight year old would ever want was gathered.  Clothes and toys filled two red wagons. Neighbors offered to drive the magnificent bounty to the home where the girls would spend the night, getting in touch with the manager for the address, to surprise Saren.

Mrs. Lawrence, after hearing the kindness of the neighborhood, called a first time foster offer to have Saren and Lily spend the night. The lady sounded kind although there was a twinge of sorrow in her voice.

“My husband and I lost our only daughter last year to leukemia. We would like to hear a child’s laughter this year “

“Would you be willing to take two?  

“That sounds wonderful. We would love to have them. It will help us.”

What joy prevailed!  Saren, surprised and overwhelmed with the totality of gifts, insisted the presents be shared with the other shelter children.

The next morning, the two were asked if they would like this house to be their permanent home. Both were astounded but overjoyed. They were going to be a family and best of all be loved.

Lily reflected; ‘A home with a family is the best gift of all.’

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