Tonight’s tips jangle in my coat pocket. It’s enough to buy a second Santa present for Judy. A small one, yet, together with the other, the joy on her face will make Christmas rich this year. Last year, Toys for Tots only had dolls, but if she was disappointed in Santa, I couldn’t tell. Judy’s a good girl. She never complains.
I knock on Mrs. Wheeler’s door and gather Judy from the couch. She shifts her arms around my neck. Her hair smells like cigarette smoke, but Mrs. Wheeler is all I’ve got, so I don’t complain.
“Santa came!” Judy tugs me into the living room and rips into the smaller package first. Her eyes light up. “Colored pencils! I won’t have to borrow Sara’s anymore.”
Then the big one.
“Pony monopoly?” She deflates. “Last year Sara got PlayStation from Santa. I tried to be good all year, so he’d bring me one too, but Santa loves Sara more.”
“Santa loves all kids equally.” I squeeze out the words around the lump in my throat. “I’m sure there’s a reason he picked this for you.”
“Maybe it’s because I love ponies. Will you play with me?”
“Dibs on the blue horse van, but I’ll let you go first.”
Judy giggles and doles out the play money. Christmas is as rich as I’d hoped.
About the author
Julie Blaho is a creature-crazy country girl who divides her free time between teaching kids to ride horses and writing. She writes in Italy and has work published in Flash Fiction Magazine. You can find her on Twitter: @FelicioneFarm or Instagram: felicione_farm
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