Footsteps creaking on the stairs wake me. It is dark outside. I am alone in the girl’s bedroom. I dress in robe and slippers and creep down to the living room. The woman sits in her big, tapestry chair. The other children are opening packages. I find a spot to sit.
“It’s Christmas!” Ames crows to me.
“This is for you.”
She pushes a large box towards me. I rip the paper away and open the box. Inside is a pile of folded clothes.
Marie is opening a box. She lifts a dress with a black top and striped skirt. A white tag is attached to one sleeve.
“What’s this?,” she asks.
Her eyes are shining. She reaches into a distended pocket and pulls out a small box.
“Open it,” the woman replies.
Her eyes are shining. A big smile lights her face. Marie opens the box.
“A watch!” she cries.
“You wanted one,” the woman says.
“Oh thank you, Mommy!” Marie jumps up and hugs the woman. “I love my Christmas presents.”
“You must thank your father too.”
“I will,” Marie says.
I rifle through the box of clothes. Is there a small box for me?
I shake out each garment: pants, two skirts, two sweaters, a dress, a jacket. Some have small mended areas. There are no tags. There is no small box.
Clothes, I tell my Friend.
“This is also for you.”
The woman hands me a small package and a filled stocking. Claire is removing a big silver bow from a pink hula hoop.
I tear away the paper. It is a red yoyo.
A kazoo, a small puzzle, and a small, white, leather covered New Testament fill the top of the stocking. Candy, an apple, and a clementine fill the rest of the stocking.
“Do you like your gifts,” the woman asks.
My head down, I say, “Yes.”
“You really needed clothes,” she says.“
I know.” My head stays bowed.
“Ho! Ho! Ho!” the man booms as he descends the stairs.
The children run to him. “Thank you, Daddy!”
“Thank you Rev. O!”
They compete in displaying their Christmas gifts for him.
“Aren’t you going to thank your father?” the woman asks.
I walk over to him, He is sitting on one of the bottom of the steps.
“Thank you,” I say, my voice small.