Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the Letter to the Romans this weekend St. Paul speaks of reforming our personal relationships so as to live in harmony (Rom 15:5). This is a story of how a little girl faces that disappointment.
I was eight years old, but I was old enough to realize that Christmas presents were not brought by Father Christmas. In our house there was a lot to be done and my parents were completely absorbed in their duties and did not have time to think of little things. Even Christmas presents were collected at the last possible moment.
That Christmas Eve I was alone in the house awaiting my father and mother. I remember I was in front of the stove, where I had just gone to prepare some food, when my parents came home. As soon as they saw me they started to sympathize with me. My father stroked my hair. I heard my mother say something about “the poor child.”
At first I did not understand, then I did not want to understand. A little confused, they said: “You know how busy we have been. Now we have something unpleasant to tell you. We have not had time to go to the stores to buy you a present. We have only just finished working and its eight o’clock. But when they open again we will buy whatever you want.”
I felt a terrible suffering which struck right to my heart. I did not want to believe them. I burst into tears and ran to my bedroom. I cried because I did not have a Christmas present and I could see what would happen the following day when I met my little friends who lived near me. They would ask: “What did Father Christmas bring you?” Then they would show me all the presents they had received, and I would have to reply, “Nothing.”
The following year at the same time, Christmas Eve, again I was waiting alone. Again they were late and I said to myself, “You will see, they will forget again.” It seemed that cynicism, rare at my age, had taken hold of me.
What should I do? I could not bear the thought of suffering as I did last year. Suddenly I remembered something I had seen a short time before.
A woman had come to do the washing at our house and she had brought her baby girl, about three years old. The child had no shoes although it was winter. She wore tiny wooden clogs and a little apron over a discolored dress. She sat on the stairs by my house. I was doing some work, but every now and then I looked at her. She was silent, gazing into space, very calm. Suddenly she did a very strange thing. She took off one of her clogs, wrapped it in a filthy handkerchief, then held it in her arms as if it were a doll, rocked it, humming gently.
Following on this memory another thought came to me: “Perhaps there is a way to be happy even when you are disappointed. Perhaps the only way to be happy is to make others happy.”
I rushed to my room, opened a box in which I kept my dolls. Some had lost their arms, or legs, or head, but some were still very pretty. There was one, my favorite, which fascinated me because it was in a little basket and it had a set of clothes which I could change – bonnets, jackets, etc. I looked at it, collected its bits and pieces, put it into a little cot and made a parcel of it.
I rushed around to find the lady before my parents came home. The lady recognized me and said: “What do you want miss?” “It’s for your little girl.” I turned and ran off. She stood at the door and called after me, “Thanks!”
I arrived home breathless. My parents had still not arrived. Even before I saw them, I realized that I had guessed right. They had forgotten my present again. But I only had one thought in my head: that little child.
My parents sympathized with me, but I did not cry. I had a lump in my throat, but I continued to think of that girl, who would be happy. It was the first time in my life that I experienced joy while not receiving anything.
God Bless You,