Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Home for Christmas (11/20/08)
TITLE: Going Home For Christmas
By Connie Dixon
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This Christmas Day at my parent’s home in Spokane was anything but typical. The family gathered but the somber mood was not conducive to celebrating. Christmas carols were noticeably absent, replaced only by hopeless whispers and soft cries. It was a day to remember, but for no good reason.
A few weeks before Thanksgiving I received a phone call that would change my life forever. An avid golfer, I was leaving for the Country Club just as the phone rang. The ladies gangsome teed off at 1:00 and I didn’t want to be late.
My oldest sister’s daughter was calling. Caron, our 19 year-old niece, was an ill-equipped, teen-aged mom of a beautiful, bright-eyed 5-year old. At age 14 she had not been prepared for motherhood or any other responsibility for that matter. Her finest parenting skill was finding a warm place to unload her little girl while she went out to party.
The conversation was brief. After some small talk she asked, “Will you take Haley home to live with you?”
As you might expect, I was astounded by her incredible request. A child? No……it was not in our plan. Dan and I loved being in the DINK society – Double-Income-No-Kids. We had not intended to drop our membership. Bringing a child into our home, though not out of the question, would certainly put a kink in our carefree lifestyle.
After a prayerful week, we called Caron back to tell her we would take Haley under one condition……adoption. We knew our niece too well and anything less would have surely ended in devastating heartbreak for everyone involved. She agreed but wanted us to take her immediately and start the proceedings after the fact.
I quit my job as an optometric assistant to become a full-time mom. Golf became less of a priority and just two weeks after Haley’s arrival, I quit that too. By the third week, we were adjusting well and life for us began to take on new meaning. We fell in love with our resilient little black-haired princess, and wondered how we’d gotten along all these years without her. Each night she begged for a bedtime story and afterward would ask, “Will you lay with me until I fall asleep?” Her hand reached over the bedding to grasp my neck and remained until her breathing settled into a constant rhythm. I wondered how anyone could relinquish such a precious child.
Haley loved pre-school, she made friends with the neighbor kids and she began to bond with her Uncle Dan as he chauffeured her around the neighborhood in his golf cart-like limousine. Life had never been better.
As Christmas drew near, a subtle fear gripped my heart and I became apprehensive about going to Spokane for the holidays, not knowing how Haley would react to seeing her mom after 6 weeks. Caron remained consensual, but her normally unpredictable behavior kept us guarded. We had agreed that it was in Haley’s best interest to maintain a relationship with her mom so that in the future, she would have no reason to resent our interference. Now, I was having second thoughts.
Haley and I headed north a day ahead of Dan. We were to meet Caron at Chuck E. Cheese to discuss details of the upcoming adoption. After the initial warm homecoming, Haley amused herself in a world full of colored balls while her mom and I talked.
Caron’s demeanor changed abruptly. Without emotion she stated, “I’m taking Haley back.” Haley’s other grandmother had made endless promises and offers that Caron could not and would not refuse………she would retrieve Haley on Christmas Day at my parent’s house.
My world shattered……I was speechless, paralyzed. We had no recourse, legal or otherwise.
I pleaded my case in broken sobs, in futile reasoning - but my words fell on hardened ears. The choice had been made. The uncertain fate of one child had been determined by another - for false hopes and phony promises.
Though my entire family opposed this remorseless adolescent pact, there was one small voice that quietly honored the decision – Haley would be going home for Christmas.
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