“Mom! Hurry hurry! We got things to do!” I called up the stairs after my mother, who was in her own way, preparing for our early morning excursion. My mother was never one for waking up early, even when I was little I could remember her storming into the room half asleep, trying to open her eyes wide enough to see what was actually happening. Usually it was something trivial, like my brother, stealing my blanket off my bed, or Affair hijacking one of my bears for his hostage set up. There was definitely a lot going on in the early mornings in Chiffon house, it just happened to be that none of them were my mother.
Finally she emerged from the top of the stairs, and I excitedly watched and waited as her feet slowly made their way down the long flight of steps. She took them extra slow, a small pause between each step as her weight shifted from one side to the other. I was far too excited about the coming day to even care that she was traveling at a snails pace.
“Merry Berrymas eve day!” I beamed. Mom took one step on the carpet and shot a look across the space between us.
“Merry Berrymas eve love.”
My favorite day of the year was almost upon us. You are probably wondering why Berrymas would be favorite day, seeing that I didn’t even believe in Berry. Well, it’s a good a question, I will admit, but my answer was a simple one. I loved what Berrymas stood for. It was a time to be with the ones you love, and share a feeling of warmth and light with all those around you. It pretty much felt like my philosophy brought to life and for one special day, everyone celebrated the same feelings of well wishes. That particular year, was an extra special one. I had something extra special to prepare for.
That was the year I finally convinced my parents that I was ready to join the “I’ll be home for Berrymas” program. It took about three years of me begging and pleading before they decided that I was ready. Of course we could have joined the program many years before that, with them as the main sponsor, but they wanted to ensure that I was responsible enough to handle it on my own. The program started about the time I was 10 years old. I had heard about it from my grandmother, since it was a sister program to the “Shadow” program she had been involved with since she was a teenager. This program though was slightly different from the “Shadow” program, since it did not deal with those with disabilities. No, this program was designed with one idea in mind. Each child from the local foster homes and the orphanages, would be welcomed into a sponsors home for Berrymas. It wasn’t a permanent situation, but it was a way for them to celebrate Berrymas with a family who cared and to experience that special feeling of being with others. Everyone deserves to feel that on Berrymas, and for the first time, I was going to get to help!
It took almost three months before we received the approval letter. Which just so happen to be three days before Berrymas. This left little to no time for us to pick out the gifts we were going to buy for our guest. Our schedules conflicted all week, so it wasn’t until Berrymas eve did Mom and I finally have time to get the shopping done.
“Do you think she would like toys? or clothing?” I asked my mother, sliding one hanger at a time searching through the dwindled selection of Berrymas sweaters.
“I’m sure she will love whatever you decide on dear.”
I finally came to the conclusion that she needed both. I had narrowed my selection to two different sweaters. They were both cute, but I wanted to make sure it was perfect. I held one up and then the other. “What do you think?” Do you think she likes llamas, or do you think she would prefer the reindeer?”
I could tell my mom wasn’t going to be much help, if it had been up to her, she would have grabbed the first extra small she could find and that would have been that. Not me though, I was a bit of perfectionist in that way. I squinted deeply at the knitted fabrics in each of my hands. “Purple or lavender. Purple or lavender.”
Mom, who was getting slightly annoyed, took both from my hands. “How about both?”
I smiled back at her. “Great.”
We picked up a few other things while we were there. A new doll for our guest and I also snagged a little something for our other Berrymas eve guest Bubble.
By the time we had finished all of our shopping, it was getting close to lunch time. I had enjoyed an extra large bowl of cereal back the house, so I wasn’t really that hungry, but Mom was definitely feeling it. The grumpier she got the hungrier I knew she was. We stopped in at her favorite little place “The sweet sidecar diner”. The food was far too rich for me, but she loved it.
She ordered her Philly steak sandwich and we both took a seat. I swear the moment we sat down, my stomach started to rumble. The aroma wafting out of the diner was almost unreal. My mouth started to water and twice I seriously considered ordering something. After mom inquired twice, I resolutely shook my head. “No I had a big breakfast. I’m good.”
All that fat and grease, I knew exactly where it would go, if I even thought about eating something off that plaque. Hungry and annoyed, I tried my best to keep my mind off my growling tummy. I had already decided that I was going to allow myself the pleasure of enjoying some cookies this year, so there was no possible way to add anything else to the menu. I leaned over the side of the table and pulled the large bag into my lap, sliding the sweaters from the bag, I gave them both a once over. “I think she will really like these. The fabric is just beautiful.” Moms mouth, was so full of food, all she could manage was a nod as she let out a muffled. “Muhuh.” I forced a smile as she continued to chew and chew. It was like a living nightmare. Now I was the one who was ready to go home.
But we weren’t ready get back home just yet, we had one more stop to make. The most important stop of them all.
Once we had filled out the rest of the needed paperwork, we officially had little Taffy in our care. She was incredibly shy, and from the moment she and I said hello, I found her clinging to me. I felt so bad, she was so nervous and scared. It was obvious she had wanted to be a part of the program, but her little nerves were determined to make it as hard as possible for her. Once we arrived home, mom took the bags upstairs. “I have some wrapping to do, why don’t you show our guest around.”
We both watched as mom went upstairs and then I turned my attention to Taffy. I was just about to say something when I heard the clanging of pans in the kitchen. “Oh sugar shells!”
I gave her a wink. “Let’s go see what grandma is up to.”
Taffy gave me a timid nod and taking hold my hand, I led her down the hall to kitchen.
“This is Taffy. Taffy say hello, she can’t see you, so you will have to let her hear your voice.”
Taffy looked up at me her eyes wide with worry. “It’s alright. I promise.”
She nodded. “H-hello.”
My grandmother who had no trouble at all expressing how she felt, beamed with joy, still mixing away in her bowl, she smiled, looking in the general direction of our voices. “Hello there! You must be…”
I patted her shoulder and smiled again. “Tell her your name.” I whispered.
“Oh goodness me. Don’t you dare think about calling me Ma’am little Taffy. You can call me Tranquil or Grandma if you like.”
Taffy smiled. “Tranquil. That’s starts with T just like Taffy.” Her voice gathering more and more confidence.
“It sure does little angel!” Taffy’s face stretched into full fledged smile.
I leaned in again. “I knew you would like her.”
I took hold of Taffy’s hand. “Come on! Let’s see who else we can find!”
We wandered through the house, stopping at each room, seeing who we could find. Oddly no one was around. Well the boys had taken over each of the upstairs bathrooms and mom was busy in her room, wrapping up all of the gifts we had just purchased. We happened to stop in the hallways upstairs, when Taffy looked out the back window. “What’s that?” She asked, pointing to the building outback. I looked out the window. “That is the martial arts room.”
“Neat! Can we see it?”
I grabbed the key from the board on the way down and then we headed out sliding glass door. To my surprise the door was unlocked. I slowly pushed the door open, and we both stepped inside. There in the back corner were my cousins.
“So then I crawled across the lawn and I bit his leg, like RAWR RAWR!”
“Then what happened?!”
“He screamed of course. Yelled something about rabies.”
“Rabies? You actually bit him?”
“Sure I did! Put a hole in his pants.”
“HAHAHAHA No way!!! Oh my Berry you are so weird!”
“He was the weird one. I told him three times to stop looking at me.”
“She’s not going to bite us, is she?”
I shook my head. “No, but what do you say we get out of here.” Neither of us hesitated as we backtracked out of the room. I quietly shut the door behind us.
“That was weird.”
“I know.” I scratched the back of my neck. “Lets go back in.” We started to walk back towards the house when the most brilliant idea struck me. “Oh I know where we need to go next! Follow me!”
We sounded like a heard of elephants traipsing up the stairs. “Where we going!” She questioned excitedly.
“My room! I have surprise”
We stopped right outside my door and I held my finger to my mouth. “Now.” I whispered. “We have to be kind of quiet, we don’t want to startle him.”
Taffy’s eyes lit up. “Okay. “ She grinned, her freckles seemed to dance across her little cheeks. I swung the door open and the moment she caught sight of Dreamer she let out a muted squeal. “Kitty! Oh you have a kitty!”
“Can I hold him?”
“Of course you can!”
I scooped Dreamer off the bed and gently held him out for her to take. She was just as gentle as she wrapped her still gloved hands around him. “Hello Dreamer! My name is Taffy.” They were absolutely adorable together. Taffy looked so happy, I only wished it was something we could have done on a more permanent basis. Sadly I knew that wasn’t possible, so I had to do what I could to make the time we did have, the best night ever.
“You have a nice room. My room is isn’t really mine. I share it with four other girls.”
“Thank you. My, five girls? That must be quite cramped.”
“It’s pretty small. There are two bunk beds and one single bed. I sleep on the top bunk with Angel. Well, she sleeps on the bottom bunk and I sleep up top.”
“Ah i see.”
“But I really like your room. It’s so pretty. One day I will have a room like this.”
‘I bet you will!”
“I like your sweater too. It’s like a real Berrymas sweater. Ive never had one myself.” Taffy’s voice started to trail off.
I soon realized my choice of gift could not have been more perfect. I steepled my hands together. “I think there is something else you and I need to go and do.”
“Can we bring Dreamer?”
“Let’s leave him here for now and we will come back and get him in a little while.”
This time we sounded like a heard of elephants heading down the stairs.
I ran straight for the large tree that now sat in the middle of our living room. There were packages sitting all round its ruffled skirt. A few new packages adorned the spots that had been empty only a day before, and I assumed that they had to be from our latest shopping outing. I knelt down and looked through all of packages, checking each tag till I found one with Taffy’s name on it. I could tell from the size it wasn’t the doll, so I snatched it up quickly.
“Now.” I smiled throwing the package behind my back. “This was actually for tomorrow morning, but I think under these circumstances, we should open it now.” I presented the box, and Taffy’s eyes lit up a second time, only much much brighter than they had before. “Merry Berrymas Taffy!”
At first she just held it in her hands. Looking it over a few times, she shook it to see if it made a sound, of course clothing doesn’t make much sound, so all she heard was a shlump as the contents shifted to the other end of the box. “Go ahead. You can open it.”
This time Taffy ripped the bow from the top and tore into the paper. Opening the box, she pulled one of the sweaters from inside. “Oh wow!” She squealed. “A sweater! A Berrymas sweater! It’s so pretty! Thank you!!”
“You’re welcome. You should try it on! Use that bathroom, right over there!”
Taffy lugged the sweater into the downstairs bathroom and I waited patiently at the door. Couldn’t hardly wait to see her in it.
“I love it!!!” She squeaked.
Ah it fit her perfectly, she was probably happiest little berry I had ever seen! That excited feeling started to get to me. I was slightly addicted to making people happy, and that moment when it all sinks in had hit. It felt amazing!
One she was in her sweater, her confidence was soaring through the roof! She asked me if I could cut her hair, which I couldn’t. Believe it or not that was in the agreement. No alterations of any sort to hair. She was kind of bummed when I had to break it to her, but then I had another idea. “I can’t cut it, but I can fix it up if you would like.”
I really didn’t do much, but the end result was just so cute! I tied little ribbons around a couple buns I had made. She looked absolutely adorable.
The time started to pass really quickly. Every time I looked at the clock, it was getting closer and closer to the time that Bubble was to be arriving. My heart would flutter every time I watched the hands of the clock as it ticked down. Before too long, I had to start on my cookies or they wouldn’t be done nearly in time. I instructed Taffy to head back upstairs to grab Dreamer, so they could sit and hang out while I mixed up my world famous dough.
“Do you think Dreamer likes cookies?” Taffy asked.
“I don’t know. He might. I don’t think he has ever had one.”
“I bet he does. Can we give him one?”
“We can break off a little piece, I’m sure that will be alright.”
“He can have a piece of mine.”
“That’s very sweet of you.” Again her sweet little face lit up with a proud smile.
Once we had the cookies in the oven, I heard some commotion in the living room. The boys had finally decided to materialize and make them selves at home on the couch with their latest obsession Call of Decadence. Well Taffy had already met everyone in the house, I had to introduce her to the boys.
“Oh you are so not going to win!”
“Boys. This our guest Taffy.”
Neither of the boys looked up from the screen but they did manage a “Hey Taffy” and a “Merry Berrymas”, and it was definitely more than I was expecting, so I was quite pleased with the both of them. We stood and watched them play till my timer went off and then we hurried back to the kitchen.
Another hour passed, and before I knew it, we were all upstairs singing carols with grandma and grandpa. The clock on the wall was now well passed the time, that I was expecting Bubble and I couldn’t concentrate at all on my singing. Ten minutes passes and then twenty, we were well into a third round of “All around the Berrymas tree” when I heard the phone ring.
I ran to the nearest phone, which happened to be in my grandmothers room, and I yanked the phone from the cradle pulling it to my ear. “Merry Berrymas! Wisteria speaking.”
The line was quiet for several moments, almost long enough that I hung it back up. “Hello?” I finally ventured.
Then came a reply. “Wisteria?” The voice was low and seemed to hitch ever so slightly. It took a moment for it all to register, but when it did, my blood ran cold. It was Bubble, but his voice was off, almost as if he was hurt.
“Bubble? Is every thing alright? Are you hurt? What’s the matter?” I started to panic, but did my best to cover it up.
Sadly, I was doing just as good of job as he was. “Wisteria, I’m sorry I couldn’t make it.” His voice hitched again, and this time I was sure there was definitely something wrong.
“It’s alright.” My words were slow and deliberate.
“I can’t talk long, but I had to call you… Wisteria there is something I have to tell you.”
“My…My parents. They don’t want me to see you anymore.”
I gripped the phone, but no words would come out.
“They don’t want me seeing a non member. That’s why I couldn’t come over. It’s not fair! I don’t want to break up with you! I really like you Wisteria.”
“I like you too…” Disappointment seeped into my entire being.
“They said I can’t see you anymore, but I don’t care! I am going to do it anyways! They can’t force me to do this! I won’t! I just won’t.”
One tear slid down my cheek.
“I’m so sorry. I wish I could see you right now. I miss you so much.”
“I miss you too.”
“Oh no…I- I gotta go. Merry Berrymas Wisteria.”
I couldn’t seem to be able to let the phone go. I held it to my ear long after the click and the dial tone drone. it wasn’t until Taffy was standing just a few feet away, that I finally snapped out of it. “Wisteria… ar- are you okay?” I dropped the phone back in it’s cradle. “Yeah.” I muttered.
Before I had a chance to say anything, she wrapped her tiny arms around my neck and pulled me into a hug. “Thank you.” She cried. “This has been the best day of my life. You are my angel. I didn’t believe they existed till I met you.” Her words were so pure, I could feel the tears beginning well up in my eyes. My emotions didn’t know where to turn, I was devastated over Bubble, but the happiness I was feeling for Taffy, had me stretched in every possible direction. I squeezed her tighter.
“I love you Wisteria.”
“I love you too honey.”
Well guys, this is the last update of the year. Merry Christmas to you all!! See you in 2012!!!!!!