Siobhann woke up early the morning of her third Christmas. She had been waiting for so long for this day. She still remembered last Christmas and couldn't wait to see what Santa had brought her. Hair messy and sleep still in her eyes, she made her way to the living room where the Christmas tree was.
Her eyes lit up as she saw all the presents under the tree and the stockings stuffed with all sorts of goodies. She clapped her hands in delight as she ran to the tree. She looked at each package, not sure where to start.
Her Daddy and I were thrilled. Not a big Christmas by most standards, but it was the best one she had ever had. Her father had an accident when she was eight months old and had been unable to work until just a few months before. We scrimped and saved and did the best we could, after we got caught up on all the bills that couldn't wait. Well, most of them. It was Christmas and some things would just have to wait.
Instead of tearing into her packages as we had expected, Siobhann carefully inspected each one. She had a compliment for each bow and the pretty paper. She opened them slowly, making sure not to tear the paper anymore than necessary. She placed each of the bows in a neat pile. We learned she would play with them later.
Pretty princess pajamas were held up and modeled for us. The game of CandyLand was squealed over. A giant bag of socks were studied intensely, taking note of each different color. Play make-up and dress up clothes were handled with care as she moved them aside.
The prettiest box was tucked away at the very back of the Christmas tree. It was the doll she had seen at Wal-Mart and had fallen in love with. We had kept that hidden in the top of the closet since our first pay day in over two years. Her Daddy and I tried not to cry as she opened it. We need she'd be so excited when she saw the little doll with the long brown hair and big blue eyes.
The bows were placed in the pile of other bows and the wrapping paper was carefully peeled away, revealing a box that had once held Huggies wipes. It had been the perfect size for this special doll.
"Oh, thank you, thank you!" Siobhann shrieked, hugging both me and her Daddy. "We always need wipies."
She sat the box aside and began looking at the pretend make-up she had gotten.
We were speechless. I finally managed to suggest she open the box.
"I'll put it in the bathroom," she said, jumping up to take the box with her dream doll away.
"Open it up. Santa sometimes uses boxes for other things to put presents in," my quick-thinking husband explained.
"It's wipies. Santa knows we always need wipies." Siobhann explained, refusing to open the box.
We ended up opening the box for her. She was thrilled with her new doll.
We were thrilled with her. She was proudest and happiest to have what she thought was a box of wipes. We almost felt guilty for not getting her a box of wipes. Her eyes almost lost a little of their shine when she realized she had gotten a doll instead of the wipes.
After a busy day of cooking, playing with new toys and eating, her Daddy and I finally stumbled to bed. I heard him muffle a cry as he turned his back to me. I knew what he was thinking. I was thinking the same thing.
Siobhann's first two Christmas' had been brought to her by total strangers, known as The Salvation Army. After her Daddy's accident, he had been unable to work. I hadn't been able to work for over three years due to my failing health. In the years before that, we had gladly taken the paper stars or paper angels off the trees at the stores and helped when we could. It then was our turn to get the much needed help.
"She was so thankful for the wipies," he finally managed to say.
"I know." There was no sense in fighting the tears now.
"She's practical like your are," he told me, holding me close. He took a deep breath. "How many kids do you think got wipies and diapers for Christmas?"
I didn't want to think about. The answer was "too many," even if it had only been one.
I'm a softie and so is my husband. Even the kids on Santa's naughty list deserves one toy for Christmas. Yet, there will be so many, too many, without any presents at all. Wipes and diapers, if they are lucky.
Will you please do me, my husband and Siobhann a favor this year? Consider it your Christmas present to us, if you would please. Take a star or angel off one of the trees you see in the store. Take a gift card to you local charities; no amount is too small. If that isn't possible, drop some change in the Salvation Army bucket. Maybe take a can of food or a loaf of bread to your local food bank or other charity that helps people in need at Christmas. If that too is out of your budget, whisper a little prayer for those who are in worse shape than you and I. And, be thankful for what you have, no matter how little it is.
I'm sure there are other boys and girls who will be thrilled for a box of wipies. Think of how they will feel to find a toy or much needed shoes or a coat. Think of how thankful the parents will be. It's a little thing to do, but no gift is ever too small when it given from the heart.