By Anne McKee / Guest Columnist
The Meridian Star
Imogene clung to the crusty-barked pine tree close by where Santa was sitting on the walking trail, next to the school. Tears rimmed her brown eyes as she watched and waited. Maybe, just maybe, she would take a turn in Santa’s lap. No, no – she couldn’t. What would she say?
She watched her friend Misty skip toward Santa wearing red boots with bells and tassels. “The most beautiful boots in the world,” Imogene thought.
Misty hopped onto Santa’s lap and he laughed. She gave him her best smile and then asked for a pony – a real, live pony of her very own. Santa said he would add the pony to his list for her. Misty squealed and hopped down. She waved goodbye to ole Santa and then smiled happily over at Imogene, as she stood by the pine tree.
Then Santa looked her way and asked Imogene if she wanted anything for Christmas. She squeezed her pine tree even tighter. Should she talk to Santa?
Earlier that morning, while dressing for school, she had pulled the last sock out of her drawer – the last sock without a hole.Yes, earlier she wished for those red boots, but Momma said, “No, Imogene. You know we ain’t got no money to spend on red boots. Girl, don’t you know that?”
Imogene walked to the kitchen and grabbed a cold biscuit – a leftover biscuit, but it was good. She tasted the brown crust and wiped the crumbs from her face. She then took another one and wrapped it carefully in an old paper bag. It would be her lunch.
It was then she remembered. Today was the Christmas party. All of her class had worked really hard to earn enough points to go to the party. Not just go, but to enjoy all of the activities, like storytelling, and creating ornaments, with refreshments of hot chocolate and cookies.
Then they would take a short trip through the decorated walking trail, where Santa would talk to each student.
She hesitated outside the kitchen door and her smile faded as she remembered her momma’s words. The words rolled around in her head. No, she couldn’t talk to Santa. No need in wasting his time with her useless requests. There would not be any Christmas presents at her house, her momma had said.
But wait a minute, her eyes popped as she remembered the words of her teacher. Her teacher told the entire class that things are changing, and that the whole nation had made a change. She ran back into the house.
“Momma,” she yelled.
“Yes, Baby, you gonna be late for the school bus.”
“But Momma, my teacher said things are gonna get better.”
“What are you talking about, girl?”
“My teacher said we have just started a new century, the year 2000, and things are gonna get better.”
“Oh, my baby girl — don’t you go counting on that now.” Her momma’s eyes welled with tears.
“But Momma, we gotta believe.”
That’s when the crock-pot slipped out of her momma’s hands and fell to the floor — it shattered into a dozen broken pieces. So like the pieces of her broken family and broken heart. Her momma slumped to the counter, uncontrolled tears poured from her eyes. With gripped fists she banged the counter as if the scratched plywood was somehow responsible for the plight of her family.
Imogene hugged her momma with strength of love and compassion that came from deep inside her six-year-old heart. The two stood together, holding each other, and the beginning of peace found their souls.
But now Imogene still clung to the pine tree, and that’s when she remembered holding her momma earlier that morning. She looked at Santa again, and then walked to him. His strong arms lifted her onto his knee and his kind voice once again asked, “Little girl, what do you want ole Santa to bring you for Christmas?”
With tears in her eyes she answered, “Will you bring my momma a crock-pot?”
Authors note: Previously published in the MCC Literary Review and based on true events. Anne McKee is a writer and storyteller.