Candy Cane Christmas

Christmas was Denise’s favorite holiday. That’s not unusual since it’s almost everyone’s favorite holiday, but her story was unusual. It was the Christmas season when her parents adopted her twenty years ago on December 21st, 1998. The anniversary of that with Christmas following soon after was always the best part of her year.

In the last two years though, she had lost both of her parents – one to cancer and one to what she can only describe as a broken heart. Since her Dad died in June, she had been dreading this Christmas season. That was, until around October when a little girl who was seven years old named Tiffany came through the agency she worked at. She was orphaned (both parents died in a plane crash) and had no other relatives to take care of her.

Denise worked at an adoption agency, because had it not been for an adoption agency helping, she never would have met the people who raised her. She wanted to give back, and she felt like this was how to do it.

When she met Tiffany, Denise felt an internal tugging to help. She had always planned to adopt, in a way of honoring her parents, but she planned to wait until she was married and a little older. After she heard Tiffany’s story though, she knew that it was her time now. So, she started the process of adoption (it tends to go quicker when the child is orphaned and when you work at an adoption agency). The Judge had planned to sign the official adoption order on December 19th, but Denise had explained the significance of the 21st, and they all agreed that it would be special to share that date together.

Tiffany had been living with Denise as a foster situation for a little over a month though. She was adjusting, but she didn’t come without issues. She had nightmares almost every night, and she was constantly anxious that something was going to happen to Denise. With everything Tiffany had been through, Denise told herself that it would just take a little bit of time.

The Judge did sign the Order of Adoption on December 21st, 2018, and the girls celebrated with a big lunch at Tiffany’s favorite restaurant in the city, followed by ice skating and a visit to see Santa. Denise was excited to help Santa out and give Tiffany the best Christmas she could afford on her salary. As they left, Tiffany stuffed several candy canes from Santa’s elf into Denise’s bag and took her hand. This little girl was so happy now, and so was she.

That next day Tiffany and Denise spent hours baking cookies and cakes for Christmas, and watching Christmas movies. Any doubts Denise hadĀ in the beginning about going forward with Tiffany’s adoption dissipated. She felt like nothing in the world could ruin this Christmas for them.

That night Tiffany had one of her nightmares again. It was different this time though, because once Denise woke her up Tiffany didn’t seem to snap out of it like she had every other time. Denise tried to go back to sleep, but she couldn’t get her mind to settle down. When Tiffany had one of her episodes, it always left Denise a little shaken. It was hard to describe, but her eyes were blank and she didn’t say anything when Denise tried to talk to her about it.

Denise went into the kitchen and made herself a glass of hot chocolate. She sat at the table stirring the marshmallows in her mug, wondering what she could say to help her.

Denise heard footsteps and turned around to see her new daughter in the doorway of the kitchen holding a sharpened candy cane.

“Merry Christmas” Tiffany hissed as she lifted the candy cane in the air and charged toward her.

Be a Friend of the Library!

Happy Saturday y’all!

I am so excited, because yesterday I joined Friends of the Library here in Charleston. I have been wanting to for a while, but I finally did it yesterday at one of their book sales they hold each year at a local library. It was just $20 to join, and it goes toward such a good cause. I even got a free book when I joined, which for me was already worth the $20.

It was an awesome day, because I got twenty books for just $52! I got a few novels I had been wanting to buy but just couldn’t pay full price for (books can get expensive) and I also got a few that I wouldn’t normally buy myself, like some kids’ Christmas books that are classics and some books that go along with the Harry Potter Series.

I love the local library; it has always been my happy place since I was a kid, and I hope that they never become a thing of the past. Groups like Charleston Friends of the Library help to promote the local library and the different programs it has. The goal is to enhance the programs and things the library has in place, by donating time and money.

If it’s something you’d be interested in but you live in a different area, you should definitely check to see if your local library has a similar program. And if you don’t have a library card, well you better go get one of those too!

Have a great day!

Christmas with Bobby

December 21st, 1987- Justin

Justin’s parents didn’t stay anywhere for long. The Johanssons had lived in Florida and North Carolina in the last five years. He was twelve, so he had never lived in one place for very long.

They were writers. They could live wherever they wanted. Justin’s social life was not of consequence to them. Justin mostly stayed to himself, because he was never in one place long enough to make friends. He was into history, and most of his spare time was spent reading a book about some war or in the library looking at pictures from one.

Justin reached for the front door of the two-story, brick Victorian house that they were going to be renting. The door was heavy and a deep, rich mahogany. The owner had left a Christmas wreath hanging on it.

Justin took his coat and hat off and put them on the coat rack just inside the entryway. Since they were virtually nomadic, his parents opted out of owning furniture and instead only rented a house if it came furnished. They brought with them whatever would fit into their van, and if it didn’t it got left on a curb in whatever state they were fleeing. As long as Justin had his books and his supplies for painting his model battle figures, he didn’t pay much attention to anything else.

He walked around the house looking into each room and then made his way up the spiral staircase. He could choose between two different rooms. He chose one that had a brown, four post bed and a fireplace. There was a bookcase with a set of books on the top shelf and a stiff chair in front of it with a tall lamp.

That afternoon he unpacked his clothes and his figurines and books; when he was finished, he went outside to look around. There was a tire swing and an old shed, and then there was a pond about a hundred yards away. He went to the edge of the pond closest to the house and sat down.

As Justin was staring at the lake, he heard leaves crackle and he turned around expecting to see his mom or dad. It was a boy who looked about Justin’s age. He had brown hair, dark brown eyes, and he was dressed in jeans and a brown sweater.

“Hi, I’m Bobby,” the boy said.

Justin assumed he must be from one of the houses down the road so he stuck his hand out for the boy to shake.

“I’m Justin. We just moved in today.”

Justin invited Bobby in. He wanted to show him the figurine collection and all of his books. He walked into the kitchen and asked his mom for two glasses of lemonade and a plate of cookies, and then he and Bobby ran upstairs.

December 21st, 1987- Rhonda

Two glasses of lemonade. Maybe he was just thirsty, but she was worried it was starting up again.

They moved a lot. She knew it sometimes upset Justin, even though he didn’t show it. When Justin was younger, the moves were easier. He was more easily persuaded by the promise of new adventures.

The first few moves were about the experiences and making a better life. The last couple have been to escape the experiences of th past lives.

She hoped this latest move would be one of the last ones. Her husband, Raymond, loved the thought of settling down in Maine, and he was tired of running.

December 22nd, 1987- Justin

Since there wasn’t any school because of Christmas break, Bobby said he would be back over the next day. Bobby was quiet and didn’t have much to say when Justin asked him questions, but Justin was just glad to have met someone before he had to go to the new school- at least there would be a familiar face.

Justin waited on the front porch, and at about 10:00 a.m. Bobby came walking down the driveway.

They spent the afternoon inside. It was too cold to stay outside. Bobby told him about how he had been the new kid last year, and he didn’t have many friends either.

“All the kids here play hockey. My dad is in the military so we move a lot too. I can’t even skate,” said Bobby.

Justin felt like someone his age finally understood him. For the rest of the afternoon and the next day Justin and Bobby painted figurines, and went and explored the property around the new house.

Justin was going to ask his mom if his new friend could spend the night.

December 22nd, 1987- Rhonda

Justin walked in and he looked excited.

“Hey honey, get washed up for dinner. It will be ready in twenty minutes.”

“Okay. Can Bobby stay for dinner and spend the night Mom? I was hoping he could help put up the Christmas tree and decorations,” an excited Justin asked.

Her face fell. “Sure, I’ll set an extra plate for him.”

She talked to her husband that night when they were doing dishes and Justin had gone to decorate the tree.

“Baby, what are we going to do? We’ve been here two days, and it’s the same problems as always,” said a tired Rhonda.

“I don’t know anymore Rhonda. They said anything could trigger it,” he sighed. “I’m done moving though.”

December 23rd, 1987- JustinĀ 

His parents didn’t like Christmas. He knew that, but he still loved celebrating, so he was excited to get a small tree (that his dad begrudgingly went and got for him) up and decorated last night just in time.

Bobby had gone home that morning after breakfast, but he said he would come back tomorrow so they could hang out.

Five years earlier (Denver, Colorado): December 24th, 1982-Rhonda

Her life was shattered. She sat next to Jonathan praying and rocking back and forth. It had been an accident- just an accident. She wouldn’t let herself think anything else.

Justin stood at the top of the stairs staring blankly into space.

December 24th, 1987 (Morning)- Rhonda

Justin didn’t remember that Christmas Eve in ’82. He didn’t remember his brother either. The doctors ran tests and they talked to him for months after it. They finally just said that he had disassociated himself, and that anything regarding his twin brother or the incident seemed sort of like a dream to him.

From the outside looking in, Justin seemed like a normal twelve year old.

The last five years around Christmas Justin would see people who weren’t there. They were all boys about his age. They thought if they moved that Justin’s “friends” would go away, but they never did. The doctors had put him on medicine, but the medicine made him violent, so Rhonda took him off of it.

When they lived in Florida, he had pushed her husband down the stairs on Christmas Eve for telling him that his friend “Dustin” didn’t exist. They chalked it up to it being the anniversary of Jonathan’s death, but it seemed like every anniversary, Justin had some type of outburst.

She hoped as he got older, things would improve, but it seemed like the delusions were just getting stronger. She was terrified to take him to a hospital though, because she knew they wouldn’t let her leave with him. She had lost one son, and she was determined not to lose another of her babies.

December 24th, 1987 (Afternoon)- Justin

Bobby showed up around 4 p.m. and they were upstairs in his room looking through some of the old books that had been left in the bookcase.

Justin could tell his mom and dad didn’t like Bobby. They didn’t speak to him at all, not even a “hello” until Justin called them out on being rude. They forgot to offer him anything to drink or eat unless Justin asked. It was ridiculous. He knew they were in their own little worlds writing, but that wasn’t an excuse.

He wasn’t going to lose his friend like they had run away all of his other ones. His Dad had said Dustin didn’t exist; he obviously did. He just didn’t want Justin forgetting about Jonathan. How could he forget Jonathan? He had ruined his life. He had broken Justin’s new toy he got, and when Justin got mad and pushed him, he fell down the stairs and died. Justin didn’t mean to do it. He just meant to hurt him.

Everyone blamed him for it. They didn’t want him having any friends, or having anyone to talk to. They just kept taking them away from him.

Not this time.

He heard his Dad coming out of his room.

December 24th, 1987 (Night)- Rhonda

She sat with her husband’s head in her lap; he was still breathing but it was shallow and he was weak. She screamed in agony when she saw Justin at the top of the stairs. She didn’t know why she bothered to even look up. She knew when she heard her husband screamed what had happened.

“Baby please don’t leave me,” she wailed.

She could hear the sirens. For the first time, she prayed they would take her son away too.