Soon this Christmas ritual would be over. I took the package without opening it. A woman appeared almost out of nowhere: “Open your present, honey, let’s see your gift!”
Some of the other kids gathered round. I could see Benny on the fringe. As I opened the package, I felt crimson rush up my neck. Tears welled in my eyes…Before I could hide the contents, the woman took the gift holding it high for all to see…
THE GIFT: Seven pairs of panties with the days of the week on them!!!
Mortified, I was paralyzed. “Isn’t that nice?” and she was on to the next child.
I slipped away, running outside without a coat to my favorite hiding place at the orphanage. It was a little nook in the wall by a giant oak tree. My silent tears mixed with the falling snow.
I didn’t hear him come.
He didn’t say a word.
Benny stood before me.
I looked at him, and he looked at me.
We both knew. We knew what it was like to be anonymous.
We just stood there. Then, he took off his sweater and gave it to me.
All of a sudden, in one movement, he bent to kiss me on my cheek and his shock of red hair blurred as he turned heel and ran.
Benny, kissed me.
My hand turned white hot as I rubbed across the place where he left his innocent and tender kiss.
Whatever else Christmas is, Jesus came so no one would be anonymous. Benny gave me the best Christmas present. We were no longer anonymous. We were more than “Girl 12” and “Boy 13.” We were Benny and Pat.
Pat Pickett, OblSB