The little girl went home with a full and happy heart. This would be the year, she just knew it! Even though this had been her wish year after year... She had so much faith in Santa.. he would find her mom, he would lead her to her doorstep... and then they would smile and laugh and be happy again just like she remembered they once were.
As the days led up to Christmas Eve, she thought she saw signs that her mom was trying to contact them.. the phone would ring, but no one would tell her who was on the other end, a card would show up in the mailbox from an address she didn't recognize. "That must be the one from my mom! They are just keeping it a surprise for me until I wake up and see her Christmas morning."
She spent tons of time packing and repacking her small suitcase. She wouldn't need much. When her mom came back she would buy her all the things that she really wanted, so she just put in a few changes of clothes and her favorite doll. She hid it under her bed so the housemother wouldn't see it and feel bad that she was so excited to be going away with her mom.
Then Christmas Eve finally came. They ate dinner and Mr. Don talked about not expecting much from Santa under the tree because there just wasn't any extra money for "silly little things that would just get broken in a day or two" but she wasn't hurt by this.. because she knew she was getting the best present of all.
That night, she chose her prettiest flannel nightgown. She wanted to look her best when she came down the stairs and saw mommy sitting by the tree! Then she said her prayers, said a special thank you to Santa, hugged herself goodnight and fell asleep.
She woke up extra early Christmas morning and tried to stay in bed because she didn't want to get in trouble "for waking the whole house up"... but knowing that her mom was going to be downstairs... Oh! She just couldn't stand it anymore!
Finally she heard stirring in the kitchen down below, then voices. Was one of those her mom? It had been so long since she had heard her voice, she had forgotten what she sounded like.
She brushed her hair one last time, smoothed the wrinkles out of her nightgown and slowly crept down the stairs. She could see the glow of the Christmas tree lights as she reached the bottom and she saw the small gifts under the tree, but her eyes skipped right over them, searching the room, looking for that smiling face, she remembered from the pictures she looked at every day.
She quickly scanned the room and found it empty. The kitchen! That's where she must be! So off she skipped, and as she rounded the corner she heard the housemother say, "Well I hope she won't be too disappointed, that child is always expecting way too much. If I heard her say one more time Santa know what I wants, I swear Don I was ready to swat her. She has been flittering around this house for days."
The little girl came to a stop. That didn't make it sound like her mom was in the kitchen. But she knew that if she believed hard enough Santa would make her wish come true, so she decided to go back upstairs to get dressed so she would be ready to leave when her mom arrived.
When she came back down Mr. Don handed her a gift to open. It was a coloring book and some crayons. She gave him a big hug then whispered "I will miss you most" then went to say thank you to the housemother.
All day long she sat in the living room watching out the front window, waiting for her mom to come up the walkway. She colored some beautiful pictures for her in her new book. She only left the living room when the housemother made her have some breakfast, then lunch, then supper... but right after she would run back into the living room waiting, watching... saying over and over in her head "I do believe, I do believe."
Then it was bedtime and Mr. Don made her leave the window seat and put on her nightgown and go to bed. Another Christmas Day had come to an end.
She tried squeezing her eyelids together very tight, so she wouldn't cry, but the tears streamed past and down her cheeks. She said her prayers and said a special thank you to Santa for trying his best. "I still believe in you Santa and I know that you will bring my mommy back to me one day... I just know you will."
Then, just as little girls are able to do, she fell asleep and dreamed of the life she would have when her mom came back and they were able to live happily ever after.
For without hope, faith, dreams, and visions of a better life ahead, the little girl could not exist.