As I gazed around the room, I noticed the area underneath the tree. There were more presents! Were people bringing presents? Why? Had the story about us not having any money gotten around somehow? I didn't quite know how I felt about that. I certainly was glad for Les and Marie, cause they still believed in Santa, and would have felt crushed without presents. How to explain these gifts though? Well, we would see what developed.
Going over to where they sat on an ottoman in the corner, I remembered the carving in my pocket, and asked to see theirs. I was very curious about what Marie had brought out of the box. Les proudly held out the eagle he had chosen.
"Why did you choose the bird?" I wanted to know. "Did you know it was an eagle before you took it out?"
"No, I just knew it was a bird. I like to watch them fly when I am outside, and wonder what it would feel like to be able to go anywhere I like."
Well, that was certainly a new side of Les that I had never seen before. Turning then to Marie, I looked at her expectantly.
She still looked reluctant, but brought her hand from the pocket where she had been cradling the small creature carving. We still couldn't see what she held. Then she opened her hand to reveal the tiny mouse. A mouse! Why that?
"Why did you choose a mouse, Marie?"
"I thought it needed me to keep it safe. It is little like I am, and might get lost without me."
"But, Marie, you do know it's not real, don't you?"
"Of course, I do, silly! But it's still little, and I liked it. It just fits into my hand."
We looked around for Rosie and saw her talking to that girl about her age that had brought over food a day or so ago. Hmm. Looks like Rosie had found a friend.
As the day wore on, people left and others came in. We just kind of ate when we got hungry. It seemed like there was food of all kinds in the kitchen and the refrigerator soon was overflowing. I had never seen so much in one place. That Christmas was my introduction to the real kindness and support of neighbors. I have never forgotten it.
(To be continued)