A Grateful Joy
Danny pressed his face against the front window. His breath steamed up the glass. Looking at the hole made by his nose in the middle of the cloudy circle, he drew two lopsided eyes and a crooked smile. He wrote D – A –N – N – Y, then rubbed it all away.
“Mommy, do you know what I want most for Christmas?”
Danny’s mother tousled his red curls and tapped his freckled nose. “What do you want?”
“I want a digger.”
“Yeah, so I can dig in the dirt.”
His mother smiled. “As if you don’t get dirty enough already!”
He turned back to the window. Colored bulbs twinkled in the shrubs beneath him, turning his breath on the glass red and green and blue. Car lights pulled into the driveway and lit up his face.
He ran to open the door, his blue eyes wide with wonder at the colorful packages in her arms. Following her to the living room, he snowballed her with childish curiosity. “Are those for Christmas? Did you know it snowed last night? Which one is mine?”
He picked up a flat, soft package. “J –E –S –S –I , nope that’s not mine. It’s probably a dress…yuck!” Each gift that Grammy set down, he picked up and shook and read the label.
Finally, he found his… a red, shiny box. He shook it. It doesn’t rattle; not Legos or a puzzle or marbles. It’s too skinny for a basketball. It’s too small for a new bike. Maybe it’s a digger!
“Danny, come give me a big hug.”
“Ooomph! You’re squishing me! What did you get me, Grammy?”
“I’m not going to tell you. It’s a secret!”
His mother sent him off to help clean up the playroom before the other guests arrived.
“What did you get him,” she asked her mother.
“You’re as bad as he is!”
“Oh, come on! I won’t tell him.”
“I made him the most adorable red sweater with a snowman on it. Wait ‘til you see it. He’ll look so cute in it.”
Turning away to hide her reaction, she thought," I hope so!"
Soon all the family arrived; aunts with food, uncles with packages, and lots of cousins. There were platters of cookies and candies and cakes. The women gathered in the kitchen sharing secret surprises, the men huddled in the family room talking about football, and the kids were everywhere bouncing from basement to the third floor bedrooms.
Each family that arrived brought more gifts to put under the tree. When Uncle Pete finally got there, everyone crammed into the family room. Danny tried to be patient as one by one they opened the mountain of gifts beneath the tree. Whenever he received one, he liked to close his eyes just as he ripped off the paper to reveal the surprise.
“Oh, a toy truck! I love it! It’s just what I wanted. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Not really knowing who gave it to him, Danny flitted around the room, hugging and thanking everyone.
It felt more like two weeks instead of two hours for the pile to shrink. Anyone going to the kitchen for more snacks waded through layers of colored paper, boxes, and bows. Various types of music and beeps competed with the buzz and laughter of different conversations. Danny parked his gifts in a corner, gazing at them while he waited.
Finally, the last package under the tree was the red, shiny box from Grammy. He wiggled with anticipation as his mother placed it in front of him, with a sigh. He yanked off the bow and tossed it over his shoulder. With squenched eyelids, he ripped off one side of the paper. Peeking a bit, he saw pictures of a machine with bananas and strawberries. “I love it! It’s just what I wanted!”
His Grammy laughed. “No, Danny. I didn’t give you a juicer. Open the box.”
He closed his eyes again and pulled open the top.
His mother took a deep breath of anticipation as he stared at Grammy’s gift to him. For an instant, the sparkle left his eyes and a frown tugged down on the corners of his lips. Then with a squeal and a spring, he pulled out the sweater and lifted it high.
“Oh, I love you, Grammy! It’s just what I wanted. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he squealed, as he scurried around the room, filling it with the grateful joy of Christmas.
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