14 December 2007

My Favorite Christmas Memory

The details are fuzzy as any old memory goes. The story comes like a pop-up book for a toddler: pictures emerge here and there but the lines and paragraphs don't make sense.
I was four, maybe five, and that year I learned that giving is more fun than receiving.
Her name was Deidre. She had been in the hospital for a long time for something chronic like heart problems, not a quick fix like appendicitis. Maybe we knew her through church or one of my parents' workplaces.
"We're going to take Deidre some presents," Mom said. "Why don't you pick something out for her?"
I hadn't met Deidre before. What would she like? A doll? A stuffed Snoopy? Could she play with a shopping cart in the hospital?
A book! Who doesn't like books?
I chose one of my favorites, 'Twas the Night before Christmas. My dad read it every Christmas Eve after Luke 2, right before we set out the cookies, milk, and carrot. My dad's a great reader: he does expressions. Not even a mouse!
Okay, and I had two copies of it.
It was a Golden Book edition with that gold binding and a red cover (they've since changed the cover). Mom and I wrapped it in red Christmas paper with Santa Claus laughing with that bowlful of jelly in replica. He had his finger to his nose.
At the hospital, I sat on a hard chair with my legs swinging in a long hallway. Maybe it wasn't long, but it seemed so at the time. The walls were made of cinderblocks painted cream. I breathed in the dry, isopropryll air and waited.
The waiting was the best part, I think. Holding the gift, knowing God was using me to bring joy in a little girl's Christmas. She was my age, and she would read one of my favorite books.
I don't remember what she looked like, but I was shy. What if she didn't like my gift? What should I say to her?
And then it was over, and we returned to our lives. As always, my dad read Luke 2 and 'Twas the Night before Christmas. I didn't hear about Deidre again, or if I did, I don't remember. I don't know what happened to her. I don't know if she liked my gift.
But I never forgot her. Every Christmas, I wonder if Deidre likes that story.

3 comments:

Jenny said...

Have you asked your mom about her? Maybe she remembers the situation and can fill you in?
BTW, that is a lovely Christmas memory

L.L. Barkat said...

A sweet memory indeed.

Mark Goodyear said...

I remember that exact edition. At my house we have the Cowboy Night Before Christmas, the Sailor/Pirate Night Before Christmas, and the Cajun Night Before Christmas.

I'm sure Deidre loved the book. And I hope she had someone like your dad to read it to her.