Eileen Gress, 16, of Shreve, Ohio
It was Christmas Eve, and Marie sat in her rocking chair. She was thinking about Christmas and how her husband, Mark, wouldn’t be there to celebrate with her and her daughter. I know that they needed more troops in Iraq, but why over the holiday season? How can we celebrate Christmas without him here? It just won’t be the same.
Marie broke down and began to cry, putting down her book and giving in to the tears that were stinging the back of her eyes. Soon she heard her daughter walking into the kitchen. Marie wiped her eyes and put on a happy smile. “Hello, Sarah. What’s wrong, honey?” she asked as she saw the tears in her little girl’s eyes.
“Mommy, why can’t Daddy be here for Christmas? Why did they have to send him away?” Sarah looked at her mother pleadingly and ran towards her outstretched arms. “I don’t know, honey. They needed more help to end the war, I guess.” Sarah fell asleep in her mother’s arms, and Marie tucked her into bed and went back downstairs to think about the finances and Christmas.
Marie had purchased a few small gifts for Sarah, but she knew they wouldn’t be enough to make up for her father not being there. Sarah did say that she wanted a cow of her own, and that’s easy enough, thought Marie. One of our cows is due to calve tomorrow, and I can give Sarah her calf for Christmas. But what about the tree? Marie had a sudden brainstorm.
She put on her coat and boots and ran out to the barn, where a small scraggly pine tree was growing. She sawed the little tree down and tied it to one corner of the calving stall. She threw some fresh straw into the pen and ran into the house, went upstairs, and grabbed the Christmas decorations. Soon the little tree was laden with as many strands of garland, beading, and ornaments that it could hold. Marie went to get the cow who was due to deliver Sarah’s Christmas present. The cow plodded slowly along behind Marie as she put her into the calving pen. It was a picture-perfect Christmas scene. There, Marie thought, This will work perfectly.
The next morning, Sarah and Marie walked out to the barn to do chores. Sarah saw the little tree in the calving stall and ran there to find a brand-new, red-and-white heifer calf with a bow tied around her neck laying beside her dam. Sarah turned to face her mother with tears in her eyes. “It’s exactly what I wanted, Mom! This is the best Christmas ever!” she exclaimed.
“Merry Christmas, Sarah,” Marie said. Just then, they heard the noise of combat boots crunching through snow. Marie turned around in time to see her husband walk through the barn door. “Daddy!” Sarah shouted as she ran towards him. “Mark,” said Marie softly. “This really is the best Christmas ever.”