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 had 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.