It was the first snow fall of the season as the Holiday family finished up their Thanksgiving supper. Five tiny noses leaned against the foggy, dining room window as their foster mother took on the daunting task of dishes after such a feast that she actually began preparing a week ago, but took exactly 19 minutes to eat. With a sigh and a sweet twinkle in her eye, as she plopped her tired, tall, skinny self onto the chair, Joy looked up at her husband, Jason of 22 years and smiled. A smile that created a feeling in Jason which provoked him to smile back so big that all five children turned around from the snowy window at once. “If you all would like to go hunting for a Christmas tree tomorrow, you better hope this storm passes”,Jason scorns with a smirk. All five children frown at once and scurry up to get ready for bed.
Jason and Joy Holiday were long time High School sweethearts. Married exactly two months after graduation, they both had dreams of having a big happy family. Throughout college, they spent every second together until eventually earning degrees in education. As teachers of the local elementary school, they naturally loved the children of their small community town of Winterville, Minnesota.
Teaching in such a small community was stressful at times. Many students in their classrooms were children of migrant farm workers. Money in the community was always tight. Even Jason and Joy experienced their share of financial strain, but when either one of them would realize a child in need, they just had to do something about it. A child without a winter jacket would have one the very next day. A child whose parent went to work before dawn, was expected to drop their child at the Holiday’s, where Joy would fix them bacon and sour dough pancakes with real maple syrup and Jason would make sure they made it to school each and every day. They never expected payment or anything in return.
Although they always had dreams of a family, it became evident that the community’s children would be their family that they dreamed of. It was unclear if there was just never time or if they made a conscious decision, but Jason and Joy Holiday would never have any of their own biological children and this was their special thing that kept them so full of love for each other. Joy could look deep into Jason’s eyes and although never said, they both knew that they were happier than they could ever be. They also knew that bringing their own child into their community would only take from the other children in their lives that were already in so much need.
As the years passed, The Holiday’s became licensed to provide foster care, so they could occasionally provide a temporary home for children in their community of Winterville. This was difficult at times, but brought Jason and Joy even closer. Sometimes, there would be as many as 10 children in their home. It wasn’t rare to get a call in the middle of the night to take in an infant. Jason learned how to change diaper in 2 seconds flat and Joy learned how to be a mother of an infant in less than 2 seconds flat, which ironically is pretty much how biological parents learn too! Joy would take 2 or 3 days off as a teacher to take the child to been seen by a doctor, enable all services needed, and buy all of the things an infant or child would need. Most of the time, the children they would take in had absolutely nothing. The school had a back up substitute for Joy when this was needed, as Jason and Joy Holiday weren’t the only giving people in the small community of Winterville. Joy’s substitute, Mrs. Bailey was a retired teacher who volunteered her time to teach Joy’s class.
On this Thanksgiving night, The Holiday family consisted of 5 children: 2 year old Lacey, 3 year old Jack, 6 year old twin girls: Lucy and Laura Lynn, and 12 year old “Sissy”. All of the children had different biological parents with the exception of the twins. Each one was extraordinarily special and everyone had a story including the oldest, Sissy, whose parents had just passed away in a car accident over a month before. She came to live with The Holiday’s while Child Protection explored other family placement for her. Sissy was a student of Jason’s class and had been a student in Joy’s class before that.
As Joy finishes up putting away the last Thanksgiving dish, and Jason heads up the stairs to read the nightly bed time story, a ring on the doorbell startles their exhausted peacefulness. It was dark and very late. The snow storm was dumping enormous amounts of snow. Joy says to Jason, “who could that possibly be in this storm?” She proceeds to the door, peeks through the window and sees nothing. As she retreats back to the kitchen, she is overcome by a feeling. A deep down something that made her go back to the door. As she carefully opened the door, she looked down on the snow covered porch to find a cardboard box labeled “fragile, please deliver to Mrs. Joy Holiday.” Joy picked up the box and brought it inside. It’s taped carelessly and as a little fear topped with curiosity begins to set in to her, she peeks inside to find a newborn baby peacefully sleeping inside and swaddled in a bathroom towel along with an envelope with nothing but a Christmas card inside.
To Be Continued…