It is Sunday night and I still haven’t started doing my homework assignment my teacher gave us on Friday. At first, I thought it would be easy. She told us to write out our Christmas wish list. We are supposed to write down the ten things that we want the most. Piece of cake. Except… it isn’t.
I first sat down to do it right after dinner on Friday. I got about halfway through the list when I started thinking, “Do I really want this stuff?” I left the list there on the dinner table and went up to my room. What is my favorite Christmas gift from last year? I had to really think just to remember what I got last year. There in my toybox, I saw the wand I got as part of my princess set last year. When was the last time I even played with that? What about the barbie in there? My little brother Billy got me a Barbie for Christmas last year and I don’t know if I even played with it once. I know he did. That Barbie was always in some prison or some dungeon where his superheroes needed to rescue her. I think he had more fun giving it to me than I did in getting it.
That got me thinking. What gifts did I give last year? I got dad the red tie with blue stripes. It is easy to remember because every Tuesday he is wearing it to work and he likes to tell me every single time that it is his favorite tie. I have a hard time remembering opening my own presents but I do remember the big smile on his face when he opened it and said it looked perfect. I remember going with daddy to the girls’ section of the store to get some bath salts for mom. The lavender one looked the prettiest but it didn’t smell the best. The vanilla one really smelled good and I laughed along with daddy at the one called rosemary. That was my teacher’s name back in kindergarten. In the end, we decided to get the one called Orange Dream. I can’t get mommy bath salts this year. I guess on the news they were talking about how some people tried to eat the stuff and ended up going crazy. They must not have listened when the doctor told them that too much salt is not healthy. I know I stopped putting extra salt on my french fries when I heard about that. I tried to tell my little brother, Billy, but he just shrugged and kept on doing it. He is already crazy so it doesn’t make a difference. There’s no telling him anything anyways.
On Saturday I asked daddy about the homework assignment. He seemed to get happy when he realized the trouble I was having. I tried to tell him that’s not fair, he isn’t allowed to enjoy other people’s misery but that just got him really laughing. I love it when daddy laughs. The whole world seems to get a little bit friendlier when he does. Anyways, daddy asked me, “Who are some of the happiest people you know?” It’s a good question. Maybe if I knew what they got for Christmas I could put it on my list so I could be happier too.
That night we went out Christmas caroling. We tend to go out every year and I really love doing it, but this year we did it differently. The past few months there have been a lot of Mexican families that have started coming to our church and so we sang some of the songs in Spanish as well as in English. I don’t really know Spanish except, “Hola. Como esta?” and some other stuff like that but it really sounded nice, and maybe a little weird. What was really weird was how one of the new families was dressed up as Mary and Joseph. and seemed to be leading us all on the walk. Mommy told me a little bit about their story. I guess their house burned down in Mexico or wherever and so they decided to move here to build a new house. But they can’t build it yet because they don’t have enough money. The thing is… when daddy asked me who the happiest people I knew are, it was miss Maria with her little baby that I first thought of. I know that baby is the cutest thing in the world, but how can they be so happy when they don’t even have a house?
Today we went to church. The pastor was talking about Christmas stuff so I figured I should probably pay attention since I still hadn’t done my homework. Then I realized that he was talking about the shepherds and wasn’t saying anything about Christmas presents. I started reading on my own the Christmas story. I couldn’t find the part about the shepherds but I guess the wise men who came from the east brought Jesus some presents. But those presents seemed a little strange to me. The gold I get. Everybody loves some jewelry. I can’t figure out what Myrrh is. Maybe the name of a cat? Did baby Jesus have a cat? But the one that really threw me for a loop was Frankenstein? I am sure it was just a doll or something but what baby would want a doll of a scary monster. These wise men must not have had any kids of their own.
While I was still trying to puzzle this out, the pastor said something that made me stop and start to pay attention again. He said, “It is better to give than to receive.” At first, I thought he was just being religious. He is the pastor so he is supposed to be saying nice things like that. But then I started to think about everything I had been puzzling over the past couple of days. Maybe it is true? I love getting presents, but when I think about it, I think what makes me really, really truly happy is when I am giving presents to other people instead.
So it is time to do my homework. Here goes:
Dear Miss Peterson,
You asked a really good question when you told us to write out our Christmas list. I have been thinking a lot about it and talking with daddy and what I want the most for Christmas this year is to be able to give. I don’t have ten things I want to give yet, but this is the list I have come up with so far.
1. For daddy, I want to give him a new shirt that will match his favorite tie he wears every Tuesday.
2. For mommy, I want to find the perfect perfume. She likes nice smelling things but I hear too much salt will make her go crazy.
3. For my brother Billy, I want to give him the truth. He still believes in Santa Claus but I think he is old enough to find out what Christmas is really all about.
4. For Mrs. Maria and her husband and their baby Esperanza, I want to give them a new house. I know that is really expensive but I have saved over thirteen dollars in my bank. If I gave them that, and a lot of other people chipped in too maybe we can do this thing.
5. For Pastor Will, I want to give him a new Bible. The one he’s got looks really old. Probably because he reads it so much.
6. For you, I want to get a new purse. I saw how the strap ripped when you were getting up from your chair the other day. I know Christmas presents are supposed to be a surprise, but I am telling you now so you don’t buy yourself a new one before I can give it to you.
7. For me, I guess any Christmas present would be nice. It is still fun to get new things, but all I really want for Christmas is for my two front teeth to grow in.
Your favorite student,