The List of Gratitude

After the hair pulling incident, the cop would stroll around the trailer park once in awhile to make sure there was no more bully activity. Officer McKnight was always kind to her, and to her mom. On Christmas eve every year after that, a box with a small Christmas turkey and other food would show up on their doorstep.

Jane Anne and her mom Susan didn't know where it came from the first year. When it happened again the next year, Jane Anne followed fresh tracks in the snow to the officer's back door half a mile away. Their short sidewalk had been shovelled out and the box left on the doorstep while they were sleeping, and there were no tracks leading to their door. The tracks in the snow started a few doors down, but Jane Anne was certain that it was the kind policeman that had left the food for them.

It was that second Christmas day that Jane Anne received a nice fabric bound journal for Christmas. Jane Anne liked to write, and she was good at it. Her mom was proud of her, but didn't know how to say it, so she encouraged her in little ways. There was no extra money for a tree, so her gift was beside a plate of bacon and eggs at the table when she came down the hall from her bedroom. Her mom had managed to get the day off from the restaurant for once, and she had gotten up early to prepare breakfast for Jane Anne. She had splurged on the bacon.

"Good morning mom. I smell.... is that bacon? I love bacon!"

Jane Anne knew that bacon had not come in that year's dinner on the doorstep, so she knew that her mom had made an extra effort to make a nice Christmas for her. It was then that she saw the parcel by her plate.

"Wait, I have something for you mom."

She ran back to her room where she had hidden a small package under her bed. She had delivered Christmas fliers door to door for a whole month to buy her mom a present. She was only ten, but she already had a deep sense of responsibility. Jane Anne didn't think Susan had ever received a present at Christmas, or at any other time.  Susan's eyes lit up with surprise and pleasure when she saw the little tissue wrapped package that Jane Anne sat beside her plate.

"Open yours first, honey." Susan said.

Jane Anne's eyes filled with happy tears when she saw the little fabric bound journal. She loved to write, so she used odd bits of paper left over from old homework, or the backs of used envelopes to write her story ideas on. She had never really had enough paper altogether to write a whole story on.

"That's for your stories, Janie. You told me that there's a story contest at your school after the New Year. I thought that if you had some place to write your story first, you could submit it on the entry form. I love the stories that you write, even though they are only bits and pieces."

Jane Anne ran to her mom and hugged her hard through her tears. Susan became a bit weepy herself.

"Open yours now mom."

Susan gave a little gasp when she saw the beautiful and warm double knit hat mitt and scarf set. She had to walk almost a mile from the bus stop every day, in all kinds of cold and icy weather. She only had a cloth hat, old thin cotton gloves, and no scarf. The set was brand new, she had seen sets like that one in the local department store. She realized that Jane Anne must have spent her entire earnings from the deliveries for it.

"Thank you so much Janie. I can't think of a better gift in the whole world! "

She smiled broadly through her tears. Jane Anne stood tall and proud. For the first time in her life she felt worthy of her mom's love.

That night, Jane Anne leafed through to the last page of her new journal, and made two entries under a capitalized title:


Susan Joyce Smith - for being the best mom in the whole world, and for giving me this story journal.

Officer Jason McKnight - For arresting that bully last year, and for putting Christmas dinner on our doorstep for the second year in a row.

The End

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