Diana’s Christmas

 

It was December in the Ozarks and a skiff of snow was on the ground.  I was busily baking cookies and sprinkling some Christmas colored sprinkles on top of them when I heard the sound of the school bus pulling away on the gravel road in front of the house.  My nine-year-old daughter, Julie, came bounding through the front door and as usual, she was hungry.  There’s something about being in school all day that works up a good appetite.  I handed her a couple of cookies and poured her a glass of milk.  Her preschool sister and brother joined her for a snack and as we sat around the table, Julie eyed her Christmas cookie, examining each side of it, and then she said, matter-of-factly, “Diana isn’t having Christmas.” 

 

“Who is Diana?” I asked.

 

“She rides the school bus and sits by me sometimes and when I asked her what she wanted for Christmas she said she wasn’t having any Christmas.” Julie repeated once more. 

 

She continued, “Diana has pretty red hair but I think she forgets to brush her hair and the other kids don’t sit by her.  I think it’s because she’s different.”

 

I questioned my daughter about Diana and her family and where she lived but Julie didn’t know very much. She only knew there were other children in the family and that they got off the bus along the road where there wasn’t a house.

 

All evening I was plagued by thoughts of a little red headed girl who “forgets to brush her hair and wasn’t having Christmas” as Julie had described her.

 

The next morning after Julie had left for school, Diana was still on my mind.  We had only lived in the area for a short time but I knew that the principal knew everyone in the community so I picked up the phone and called the grade school principal.  I asked him if he knew of a little red headed girl named Diana who rode Julie’s bus.  “Yes, she’s one of the Martin kids, lives off the main road a little ways.  Why, is there a problem?” he asked.

 

I explained to him what Julie had said and I asked him if he thought they might be a family that needed some help this Christmas.  The principal told me that the Martin family probably did need assistance and he seemed glad that someone had thought of it.  I told him that our family would personally do something and that I would also give their name to the Christian mission in town that always helped others at Christmas time.

 

That day I found a big box and later that night we all discussed what should go into the box for the Martin family.  It was just a few days until Christmas and we began working to wrap gifts and fill the box.  Jeanna chose some toys and games that were age appropriate along with a cuddly stuffed teddy bear for one of the younger children.  Even Jeremy, who was just a toddler, watched what was going on and then ran to his own little box of toys and began throwing some of them into the box.  I began cooking and baking what I could in advance to go in a separate box of food items that would make up a traditional Christmas dinner.  I asked Julie if she would like to add something special to the box that would be for Diana. 

 

“Can we get her a pretty hat with gloves to match? Julie asked.  “We could get green like Diana’s eyes!” 

 

“Green it is!” I announced as we made our purchases.

 

That night I put the finishing touches on the box by including a children’s Bible with the story of the birth of Jesus marked with a bookmark. 

 

The next day was Christmas Eve and after work my husband, Mike, loaded the boxes into our van.  We had gotten directions from the principal and we were all putting our coats on to leave when Julie said, “Mommy, I don’t want to go.” 

 

“Well, why not?”  I asked.  “Don’t you want to take the gifts to Diana?”

 

“Maybe Diana might hide her face.”  Julie said with a worried look. 

 

I knew what Julie was feeling.  She was concerned that because Diana knew her that she might somehow be shy or uncomfortable knowing that Julie had “told” about there not being any Christmas for Diana.

 

Although I didn’t think there would be a problem, I told Julie she didn’t have to go along.

 

We drove up an old dirt road and found a little house in a clearing in the woods.  Mike got out and went to the door while I stayed in the van with the baby.  A couple of very friendly dogs met him as he got out and then a man came to the door.   As Mr. Martin stood at the door a small child peeked around the door jam and waved at me.  Mike talked a moment and then handed him the packages.  When Mike turned to leave, Mr. Martin said something else, causing him to turn around and then he shook Mike’s hand.   

 

We enjoyed Christmas a little more than usual that year and learned that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive.

 

When school started again after Christmas break, I heard that familiar sound of the bus outside once more as Julie came bursting through the door with a huge smile on her face.  She stopped right in front of me and said, “Mommy, Diana knows!”

 

“Knows what?” I asked.

 

“She knows I told.”  Julie replied.

 

“Mommy, Diana was wearing the green hat and gloves today.  When I got on the bus she hugged me and then she said,

“Julie, we did have Christmas!”

 

By

Pamela R. Blaine.

December 2004