It was just a few weeks until Christmas and I could hardly wait.
We had moved into our beautiful new house, and I had my very own bedroom. No more sharing with my annoying younger brother.
Mom was busy decorating and getting ready for the holiday. I’m not sure I had ever seen her so happy. She finally met someone who treated her well and even liked us kids too.
Buzz was a kind man, quiet and gentle with a warm smile. Walking in with his dusty work boots, exhausted from work, he was never too tired to pick me up and give me a huge bear hug.
We were living a life I could never have imagined. There was so much food in the house we had to put another refrigerator on the back porch. We didn’t have to worry about moving in the middle of the night because we couldn’t pay the rent. Life was very good.
“You are not going to start another project this close to Christmas.” I heard my mom telling Buzz.
He was always working on something. He built a new patio with a rock garden for mom in the summer and a mini playhouse for me and my brother.
Despite her protests, he began working.
It was unusual for him to be doing it inside, but it was winter, so I didn’t think much of it.
Mom was beside herself with the mess. She had worked so hard to clean and decorate the house. He had even pushed the Christmas tree off into the corner.
I was surprised and confused when I came home from school and saw that he was actually tearing down the living room wall.
He and mom almost never argued but this was different. There were pieces of wood and sheet rock everywhere. I was happy I had a room to go to where I could stay away from it all.
As the days passed, mom accepted that this was going to happen whether she liked it or not.
Just a couple of days until Christmas now and I was more excited than ever. This was our first Christmas in the new house.
Behind the canvas tarps, Buzz worked away, he looked like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain.
He even enlisted my brother to help with his “secret project”.
I was a little jealous that I wasn’t included but I kept myself busy playing with my dolls and reading in my room.
Finally, it was Christmas eve. I knew this year would be special, but I had no idea how much.
After dinner, mom sent me and my brother to our rooms. “We have something to do before Santa comes, so you have to stay there until we tell you to come out,” she instructed. “And no peeking,” she nodded to my brother.
Presents, it must be our presents we both thought.
When she opened the door, she told me to close my eyes. Gently guiding me, we walked into the front room.
When I opened my eyes, I saw the most incredible fireplace I had ever seen.
That is what Buzz had been working on. Whoever had lived there before had covered up the fireplace with a wall.
It looked like something out of a fairy tale – the fire was glowing with twinkles of light reflecting on the hearth.
Under the tree were two boxes, one for me and one for my brother.
We didn’t usually get to open any gifts before Christmas morning, so this was another unexpected surprise.
My box was not wrapped, so it was easy to just open the top. As I did, up popped the most beautiful little gray kitten in the world.
Immediately I began to cry, as I carefully lifted her out of the box.
“Is she really for me?” I asked in disbelief, petting her gently. "I think I'll call her Thumbelina because she's so tiny," I said.
My brother grinned at me and began opening his package. It was a toolbox with real tools to build things, he was thrilled.
Mom smiled and watched quietly as we laughed and played. Buzz reached down from his rocking chair and lifted me, still holding the kitten, into his lap.
It was truly a magical Christmas.