Truth be told, I only remember one gift I’ve received. If I pondered over it, I could trace back what I unwrapped each year, but only one gift pops out in my memory.
I was four, my sister five. I don’t remember being poor, I just remember being loved. But looking back it's clear. My mother saved up spare change found during the week so she could pick up milk and eggs on the weekend. We wore countless hand-me-downs and our home was quite sparse. That year in particular my mother had lovingly wrapped our few meager gifts in the largest boxes she could find, hoping my sis and I would be fooled into thinking there was more under the tree.
On Christmas Eve, my sister and I dressed in our traditional matching red and green holiday dresses, and we attended our church Christmas Eve service, reciting passages and singing Away in a Manger...but truly I excitedly thought only of what was underneath the tree. On our trip home, my father steered the car through our snowy street, and our house appeared through my frosty car window. The porch light shined softly on the front steps....its glow outlining something large and bulky on the top step. When the car pulled into the driveway, I burst from it, my tiny mary janes crunching through the snow. As I got closer I could make out the form: it was a dollhouse. An enormous dollhouse. My little mittened fingers brushed snowflakes from the dollhouse that was nearly as tall as I. It was a dollhouse out of my dreams.
My mother read the card aloud:
To Dana and Bethany,
Merry Christmas girls!
Merry Christmas girls!
“But who is it from, Mom? Is it from you and daddy?” my sis and I asked.
“I…don’t know…I really don’t know,” my mother responded, stunned.
"No, girls...it's not from us," said my father, stumbling over his words. "I promise."
To this day, we’re not sure who left the sweet gift on our step. A family friend says it was a woman who knew us from a distance...and thought the dollhouse would brighten our tough Christmas. Twenty years later, I can still remember the exact emotions I felt as we hauled the glorious dollhouse into the kitchen. Excitement. Disbelief. Gratefulness. And now, each Christmas Eve, I turn this story over in my heart, encouraged to remember that the world is full of loving people, and that our God always provides in the most beautifully creative ways.
This Christmas, I pray someone warms your heart so entirely that 20 years from today, you'll still cry thinking of their sweet gesture. May life bring you a metaphorical dollhouse.
Much love and Merry Christmas, dear readers. :)