As a little girl, I grew up in an above average home. I never lacked for anything. When Christmas rolled around my brother and I would put in our requests and wondered if we
had been “naughty or nice” to get our intended presents. As always, we received just what we asked for.
Always in our country rural school, after Christmas break, we would be asked by our teacher what we received for Christmas presents. Everyone was asked and all told with glee what they
had received. It came to me and the same question was presented. I began to tell all of which I got and one older than me piped up and said, “You’re so rich!” “You got everything you wanted.” I was teased that I was the rich little kid. Oh how that hurt! Being 7 or 8 at
the time, I didn’t know there was such cruelty at Christmas. More yet, I was not aware that their were others who were not as blessed as my parents.
As I grew and went into high school, I had a great best friend who came from a very large family. My parents did not really like me hanging around Ramona, but I was drawn to her because of their family loving me just
where I was and accepting me as such.
But again, in one of our classes together, the teacher asked what we received for Christmas. By
now, I had learned that there were others less fortunate than me. So when it was my turn to tell what I had received, I only named a couple of things because I knew my best friend Ramona would say nothing. I felt so bad for her. She came from a poor family. I remembered my insensitive classmates making fun of Ramona’s poor estate and the tattered clothes she wore. I saw her tears and I heard her pain. My folks really disapproved of me hanging around with a girl who came from the other side of the tracks. What could I possibly see in her?
Ramona lived in a small house that housed 10 people. She didn’t always smell the best because they were poor and there wasn’t always a lot to go around. But she accepted me as I did her.
We became friends while in rural school though we attended different schools. All of the rural
country schools would get together and we would have track meets, that’s how Ramona and I met. Then as we entered high school together, I was singled out because I was friends with the “other girl.” We became two misfits together.
It was right before Christmas, the kids in my class were snickering and saying to me, “where’s Ramona?” I said, I did not know. “Well, she ran off with her boyfriend. She’s going to have a baby.” I couldn’t believe it. But it was true.
Christmas was kind of sad that year for me. I lost my buddy, my chum and now I had to find a way to fit into this group of classmates who were so false. Several months had past, and I saw Ramona again. We talked and she showed me her little baby boy. How proud she was! It was great to see my old friend. She told me how grateful she was for having me as a friend because there were times she didn’t think she would be able to cope with all the taunts. She said, “I saw my chance to get away and I took it, but thanks for being my friend.” She said, “I know you were the other girl over the tracks on the good side of town, but I want you to know that it’s been my pleasure to have you for my friend. I just cried. We exchanged hugs. She was my Christmas gift as I was hers. All the riches in my world could not afford me the best present of all - her friendship.
John Greenleaf Whittier said, “Somehow, not only for Christmas, but all the long year through, the joy that you give to others, is the joy that comes back to you. And the more you spend in blessing, the poor and lonely and sad, the more of your heart’s possessing, returns to you glad.
Ramona was a cherished gift to me.
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