Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Gifts (11/13/08)
TITLE: It's A Wonderful Feeling
By Dolores Stohler
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Her sitter was all wrapped up in watching TV and hadn’t seen her sneak outdoors to play in the snow. The forbidden exercise made it all the more precious to her now. While her family was spending the day shopping for a tree and gifts for the family, Crystal was left at home with a neighbor. Baby sitter indeed! She felt much too old for that.
“Crystal,” came a sharp voice from the window. “Get in here this instant! You know you’re not allowed to be outdoors alone.”
Gone was her joy in the snow. Crystal ended her dance through the growing drifts and stuck her tongue out in rebellion. Then she lay down in the fluffy white stuff and made a snow angel. It was great until strong hands grabbed her arms and jerked her to her feet. “Come on, girl” came the voice of Emma, her neighbor. “You’re going inside with me.”
When Mother gave birth to her years ago, the family rejoiced in the entrance of a girl to their family of three boys. But joy turned to gravity when they learned she was legally blind and might never be able to see more than the blurriest of shapes. The birth defect meant special schools for their little girl and close supervision when she was out of the house. Crystal felt pampered but yearned for freedom--freedom to do more things with other kids her age.
Indoors once more, Crystal lay on her bed and contemplated all the things she wasn’t able to do. She could hear the TV but couldn’t see the picture. It was useless to try to draw a picture. Barbie dolls meant nothing to her because she couldn’t see how pretty they were. Sighing now, she wondered what her family would get her for Christmas. More clothes and CD’s probably. What she’d really like was a pair of ice skates and some ballerina slippers. Her only friend, Laurie, was taking ballet lessons and she was blind, just like Crystal.
The days passed swiftly, with cookie baking and Christmas pageants and decorating the beautiful tree. It smelled strongly of pine. Then Christmas was here and Crystal awoke to hoots of excitement as her brothers raced downstairs to see what was under the tree. She found her robe and made her way slowly down the stairs to join in the family fun.
As she expected, there was a new sweater in a box. Pink, her mother said, and she pressed it to her cheek, remarking how soft it was. The CD’s came next and a furry stuffed animal. But suddenly there was another furry something brushing against her legs, demanding her attention. She reached out a hand and tentatively touched the ear of what felt to be a large dog. Caressing the soft head, she exclaimed, “Mom, Dad, you’ve finally got us a dog!”
“Not just any dog,” Dad said proudly. “He’s a specially trained guide dog. His name is Pal and he’s all yours, Crystal. On Monday his trainer will come and start working with you two so you‘ll get used to one another. Once you’ve learned the ropes, you’ll be able to go out with him and go anywhere you want.”
Crystal’s arms went around Dad’s neck, while tears stung her eyes. Then she hugged her Mom and, last of all, a great big hug for Pal. She felt the dog’s wet tongue on her face and sighed with contentment. This was going to be the best Christmas ever!
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