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the art of love

the real story

encounter jesus

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1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (the Message)

by Fran Merrill
taken from A Story a Day ‘Til Christmas Volume 2

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My eyes must have been as big as the brightly colored balls in the store window as I gazed at all the toys.

Dolls stood in their cardboard boxes, reaching out delicately fashioned little hands and looking straight into my wondering eyes. There were playthings of every description Some I’d never even dreamed of.

Finally my eyes rested on a daintily dressed darling with a pixie face and shining curls. She stood beside a table with tiny cups and saucers with blu flowers.

“Oh!” I must have said aloud. “I love you, little Pixie Face.”
A man was standing there beside me when I finally turned to go.

“Who are you talking to?” he asked softy, smiling gently.

“Pixie Face,” I answered, smoothing out the worn skirt of my uniform. “I mean, the one with the pink organdy dress and bonnet and the white slippers.” I stopped and quickly looked down, embarrassed at saying so much.

He patted my head and I ran down the block towards the Home. I looked back once and he waved at me.

I stopped at the grocer’s and bought the can of baking powder that would make biscuits to fill thirty little tummies–plus the four people who took care of us, of course.

Mrs. Ledford met me at the door. “Hurry. We’ll trim our tree after supper.”

“A real Christmas tree? For us?”

“Yes. A nice man brought it. The other children are making decorations from colored paper and crayons. Would you like to help?”

I went into the hall and looked around. In the playroom the children were making ornaments, but I wanted to see the tree. Carefully I pushed open the parlor door. There it was, tall and beautiful, smelling of cedar and Christmas. I slipped in and sat beside the low fire burning in the hearth. A real Christmas tree. I reached out and touched it and watched the patterns its soft branches made on the wall in the flickering firelight.

I had only seen Christmas trees through other people’s windows. This one was ours. A part of it was mine.

“Little Pixie Face, maybe in the morning you’ll be under some other lucky girl’s tree, holding out your arms to her. But I’ll always love you, Pixie Face.”

The supper bell rang! I shouldn’t be here. How could I get out without the others seeing me? I opened the door a crack. Everyone was busy so I tiptoed out.

I was excited as I sat by my pal, Janie, and ate the biscuits, gravy and potatoes.

“It’s Christmas Eve!” Janie whispered.

“Yes, and we have a tree,” I whispered back.

“Does Santa Clause ever find orphan homes?” she wondered.

“Well, last year we got hair ribbons and combs,” I told her. “And we’ve been pretty good this year.”

“One time we did sneak that apple and took turns biting it.”

“Yeah,” I stifled a giggle as Mrs. Ledford looked my way.

Sometimes I envied my best friend a little. She at least remembered her mother and had once had a real home.

Trimming the tree was something I knew I was going to remember for a long time. Carolers came and I sat in awe while they sang to us. Then someone brought in a basket and we each had a whole apple.

When we ere shooed off to bed, I glanced under the tree where a few presents now rested. Oh, if just once I could unwrap a chocolate bar or a candy cane or book, just for me. Of course, I didn’t have anyone to think of me that I knew of, but I always dreamed that maybe there was someone, somewhere.

It took a long time to get to sleep, and I thought over and over of being handed a pretty ornament and climbing the ladder to hang it just where I wanted. What a wonderful Christmas.

Breakfast was early and then each girl received a pair of plaid knee-hi socks and cup with her name on it. Mine was white with my name in blue. It was the prettiest thing I had ever owned.

I watched some of the other girls open gifts and was happy for each one. There were scarves and stocking caps and books and a few small dolls. Janie got a small purse with a dime in it from her aunt.

We all crowded around as we always did when Suzy opened the larges gift of all from her uncle. Last year she got roller skates and promised that each of us could try them. But my turn never came. There were “ohs” and “ahs” as she unwrapped a m=big silver music box with a dainty fairy on top. She gave us all a piece of gum, too.

We all turned as Mrs. Ledford called, “A present just came for the little girl with the beautiful smile and brown curls.” Everyone looked at me. I stood frozen. She couldn’t mean me. Beautiful smile?

“Come on, Beth,” Mrs. Ledford said smiling.

“Me?”

“Yes. It’s yours.”

“But . . . but I don’t have anyone . . .”

“Come, Beth. Open it carefully.” She set the huge box on the table.

It was for me. Who . . . ? I touched my harelip almost reverently. The sender had made it wound almost beautiful. Never again would I put my hand over my lip or hide when a stranger came near.

My hands shook as I carefully untied the red ribbon and pushed back the wrapping paper. I opened the box and there she was–little Pixie Face.

The girls all gasped, and I just stood there gazing as tears streamed down my face.

“Hi,” I finally whispered to my doll.

“Pick her up,” Mrs. Ledford said softly.

“Oh!” I reached for my Pixie Face and held her close to my heart.

“There’s another box!” Janie said.

There was a small box inside the doll box. It was the set of dishes I had liked in the store window.

I stared to a corner with my treasures and the girls followed.

“Just leave her with her presents for awhile,” Mrs. Ledford told them. I was thankful for that.

I turned back to Janie and whispered, “You can hold her after awhile.”

Suzy said, “Oh, Beth, you can use my skates any time you want to.”

I sat with my Christmas presents all day. I had to be coaxed to put Pixie Face down so I could eat.

My life was never the same. Was it possible someone loved me? It must be. It was a brand new feeling.

Just as I drifted off to sleep that Christmas night, the face of the smiling man with the kind eyes floated toward me. I opened my eyes and threw a kiss toward Pixie Face as love flooded my heart.

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one of my favorite authors is Ruth Krauss. She writes children’s books, of course…. and they are just amazing. although all her books are really great, the very best ones are the ones illustrated by Maurice Sendak. he is such a great illustrator, and the books really just come to life with his illustrations. they are so hard to describe…. you just have to read one to know! so here is a list of all her books illustrated by him.

Bears
A Hole is to Dig: A First Book of First Definitions
A Very Special House
I’ll Be You and You Be Me
Charlotte and the White Horse
I Want to Paint My Bathroom Blue
The Birthday Party
Somebody Else’s Nut Tree and Other Tales from Children
Open House for Butterflies

i bought two of them as a Christmas present to myself, “A Hole is to Dig” and “Open House for Butterflies”. another one of my favorites is “I’ll Be You and You Be Me”. here is an excerpt:

love is when you send postcards
more than to other people —
love is they could push you down in the grass
and it doesn’t even hurt —
love is the same as like
only you spell it different —
only more of the same, sort of —
Love has more stuff in it!
love is you give them
a leg off your gingerbread man.
No, two legs.
And the head!

[‘All I want is the sugar off the button’]

and another excerpt:

A LIKING SONG

I like him beCAUSE
He likes me beCAUSE
We like each other
beCAUSE
beCAUSE