Moonlight kissed the features of the small girl as she lay holding her doll tightly against her.
Emma Cortez was squeezed into a corner of the bed she shared with her two older brothers. Ramón was nine years old and Carlos was eleven. Emma was eight and she still loved the doll Papá had given to her on her fourth birthday. That was the same year that he had died.
He had taken care of them well when he was alive though. They owned their own home which consisted of a bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen (the Christmas tree was in the living room).
Emma and her brothers slept in the bedroom and her mamá slept on the sofa. The reason her mamá slept on the sofa was because she woke up very early in the morning to cook breakfast and warm the water for their baths. To keep them warm at night, mama turned the burners of the stove on all night and also covered them with many blankets.
It was Christmas Eve and Emma had learned from very early in her life that Christmas Day was the only day of the year when mama would be home to spend the entire day with them. Mama had been cleaning house for señora Green for many years, but since papa died, Mama had to take a second job cleaning rooms at the Circle 3 Motel down the street. Even though Mama had the second job, it was hard for her to pay the bills. At times, Emma’s brothers would have to take after-school jobs at the motel as bus boys or gofers.
Señora Green helped Mama find the second job. She and her husband were very nice to Mama. Every Sunday we all went to church together.
Mama had just told us our bedtime story and Emma was still thinking about it. The story was an old one, but it was Emma’s favorite. She remembered her father telling them the story whenever she or her brothers were sad or mad at each other. He would say, “You see, God sent his little boy, whose name was Jesus, to love the whole world! To love everyone no matter who or what they were. He was sent to forgive us and give us a choice. The choice to be mad and sad and hate, or be happy and glad and love. He gave us hope, hope for a better, happier life. All we have to do is pray and ask with faith of receiving!” It always made them regret their anger. Then, they would forgive each other. Which was surely the reason Papa told them the story.
Emma had been very sad lately because her mama was sick. She had a very bad cold that made her cough very loudly at night. Then, in the morning she would look so tired that Emma wished she could also get an after-school job so that her Mama could buy a big warm coat for herself. Emma even knew which one she wanted for her mama. She had seen it in a magazine she had looked at when she was at señora Green’s house. Emma prayed that God would hear her prayers for a coat for mama and also bikes for her and her brothers. With thoughts of God’s love and hope, she drifted off to sleep.
The next morning Emma woke to loud cries of joy. She looked around and she was alone in bed. Her brothers had gotten up without waking her! She quickly put on her slippers and ran out the door to the Christmas tree. Señor and señora Green were already there and they were hugging mama. Mama was crying! Tears came to Emma’s eyes as she saw why her mama was crying. Señor and señora Green had bought Carlos, Ramon and her brand new bikes and a coat for mama! The coat was the one she had seen in the magazine! They also brought food for Christmas dinner.
Emma ran to her room and knelt at the edge of the bed. She wiped her tears away on her sleeve. She had made the right choice, she had chosen to be happy and glad. She knew that God had sent señor and señora Green with the gifts that she had prayed for.
She heard someone behind her, it was mama. Mama wanted to know why she was crying. Emma said, “I love Papa for loving us so much to tell us about God’s love for us. He really answers our prayers when we believe!”
Mama said, “Yes, honey, God does love us all. He hears our prayers!”