Charlie's Christmas Hope #8 in the 12 Blogs of Christmas
Anyone looking at Charlie’s life would have agreed it was hard. Real hard. It seemed that every time he got settled into a new foster home, things would change and he’d be sent somewhere new.
School didn’t come easy either, but it was a sanctuary of sorts. That’s where he could pretend to be like the other kids, eat in the lunchroom, play games at recess, and fill his backpack with school work he’d never have a chance to finish.
Going through the school system was much like foster care. Some teachers cared, some did not. But in 5th grade, Mrs. Reynolds came into his life. She was Charlie’s pretend Grandma. If Charlie could have a Grandma, she would be like Mrs. Reynolds. Her smile was the kind that made her eyes crinkle. She liked to laugh and hear the kids laugh too. It was the first time in his life that he remembered laughing every day.
At Christmas Mrs. Reynolds brought in several baskets of supplies. They were going to make presents for the kid’s parents. While the noise level rose with excitement, Charlie just sat and watched.
Mrs. Reynolds tapped him on the shoulder and nodded for him to follow. They stepped into the quiet of the hallway where they talked about family. Not knowing exactly why, Charlie couldn’t stop crying. Mrs. Reynolds hugged him. It had been so long since he’d been hugged.
For the remainder of the weeks before Christmas break, Mrs. Reynolds had Charlie stay after school. They’d work on school assignments, listen to Christmas carols, and she would finish by reading stories about kids like Charlie who grew up in hard places but eventually found success in life.
Mrs. Reynolds let him see that his life wouldn’t always be this way. And by remembering to smile, laugh, and do his assignments, he’d be taking steps towards success.
While Christmas may not have been like the rest of the kids in class, Charlie felt he’d been given the best kind of gift he could receive—hope. And even when things were hard, he would always have his hope.