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Magical World

Wouldn't it be lovely if, with just a twitch of the nose, life, or any aspect of it could be changed. Instead, positive changes always seem to involve tremendously hard work, determination, and endless setbacks. How lovely it would be to have the powers of Samantha Stephens.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I grew up in a family of seven children. Money was never abundant and Christmas was a small, intimate affair. We focused on caroling and making special foods, telling stories and visiting with others. In January my classmates would come to school with their lists of Christmas gifts received, but I was far more enthralled with the family and friends who had visited and the activities we'd participated in, probably because my list couldn't compare. Oddly, it didn't seem to matter that I didn't have the latest trend in music or electronics, or that my wardrobe wasn't extensive.

When I was ten years old, we started a trend among the seven children which is continued to this day. We each had the name of a sibling for whom we would purchase gifts. We were given a limit of how much we could spend, Mom and Dad helped us earn the money, and then we shopped for our selected person. There was one rule--we could make a list of what we wanted, but we accepted whatever we got.

As a young teen my view of Christmas became cynical. It was a stupid holiday. There was no God, therefore no Christ, and those responsible for the ideas of caroling and Santa had way too much time on their hands. I enjoyed shopping for my sibling, but there was no purpose in the gifts--I was just spending money on someone in my family. By the time I was fourteen I simply endured all the "crap", knowing it would be over soon. I spent a lot of time in my room, and came out only when my parents insisted that I do so.

My youngest brother was born when I was eleven. Like puppies and kittens, he was a beautiful baby, but unfortunately, grew out of that by the time he was twelve. However, when I was fifteen, he was four, still beautiful, and I loved him. He had my name for Christmas. As had been my norm for the past three years, I went through the motions of enjoying the holiday. I caroled, I baked, I played games and visited with family, and I escaped to my room at every opportunity.

Christmas morning came. I watched with detached interest as everyone got up excitedly and waited until my father said we could enter the living room. The presents were divided and I waited as everyone opened their gifts. I didn't care what I got. I was numb and sad and there really seemed no point to all that was happening. Suddenly I became aware of a tiny four-year-old snuggled into my side. He looked up at me and asked me to open his presents. I gave him a hug and said, "Of course!" I opened the first package. It held fabric yardage of fake fur--blue. I looked at it in surprise. My little brother, D, stroked the fur and said, "I thought Mom could make you a really nice fuzzy dress out of this. It will be warm and I can pet it when you wear it." I looked at my mom--she was laughing. Accompanying the fur were a pair of sueded leather shoes (actually really nice ones), which D said he knew weren't as good as the fur, but they were fuzzy, too. Eagerly my brother handed me the next gift. I opened it. Therein was a twenty-four inch plastic T-Rex dinosaur. D took it out of the box with some pretend roars, and asked, "If I'm really careful, do you think I could play with this sometime?" Now my dad had joined my mom in the laughter. D handed me his next present. He said, "These are books. Mom said you might read them to me." I opened a set of classics, Dickens, Poe, Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters--this was something I would really enjoy! I promised to read to him anytime he wished. D wiggled onto my lap, hugged me and kissed me. He said, "I'm not telling anyone, but you're my favorite sister, so I got you presents I knew you'd like." Then he ran off to play with his new toys.

I watched my family silently. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as I looked at the huge dinosaur and the blue fur. My mother came to me and quietly said, "Sam, he was so excited to buy his gifts--so we let him. I'll replace the fur later, and we can exchange the dinosaur, too." I shook my head, no. Then I gathered my gifts, went to my room and cried. I cried because I wanted to feel what everyone else was feeling, because I was empty and sad. But then my tears changed. I wept because I knew my brother loved me. I hugged the stupid dinosaur, and gently stroked the blue fur, remembering his warmth snuggled up to me, his brown eyes excited, his sweet hug and kiss.

Then I knelt by my bedside and prayed for the first time in four years. I asked God to help me find him. That was all. I went downstairs, ate breakfast with my family and sang with the Christmas music. I thought about the possiblity of Christ. I wondered if such a thing could be real. D came to me with my new dinosaur and we played for about an hour, then I read him to sleep with my new books.

Christmas has since become my favorite holiday. I no longer have the blue fur, but the dinosaur is still mine. It represents the love of a little boy for his big sister and led me to look for love from my Lord and Savior. A plastic tyrannosaurus rex--my own personal religious icon. I believe there is nothing more appropriate for one like me.

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