"Mia, I can't right now, Mommy is trying to get this load of laundry done before your cousin Amelia comes over…"
"But Momma, I made my Christmas List!"
Trying to balance the heavy socks, pants, sweatshirts and blouses on my hip I caught Mia's eye, "Honey, not now!"
She pouted in her characteristic way, her large lower lip flopping out, gray eyes darkening in sadness. Her father always called it her "baby bunny" look because of how irresistible it was. I sighed heavily, making sure Mia knew I was annoyed with her, and dropped the laundry.
"Alright, let's see this list."
Mia beamed, dragging a sparkly green paper out of her dress pocket. I took it, smoothing the crinkled edges out so I could read her handwriting.
After a silent second I looked over the edge of the paper at Mia who was staring expectantly back at me.
"There aren't any toys on this list," I stated dumbly.
Mia gave her know-it-all six-year-old nod.
Hesitating, not knowing how to respond, I asked, "Where is your Toys-R-Us catalogue?"
Not the reaction she had been expecting, Mia looked upset, "In the trash. Everything in there is junk."
She repeated what her father had said the night before, word-for-word; Everything in there is junk…
"Oh, Mia!" I hugged her and she squirmed awkwardly in my arms, "You can get a toy. Mommy and Daddy want you to be happy!"
Mia shook her head defiantly. "I want this!"
Sighing again, knowing wisely not to protest when my daughter had that look on her face, I forced a smile, "I'll talk to Daddy. I'll see what I can do."
- - -
After tucking Mia in, I escorted James into our living room, seating him on the couch with a glass of wine. The Christmas tree glittered colorfully and already a few presents covered the bare space below it.
"Mia made a wish list today," I started unsurely.
"Mmm?" James watched me over the rim of his wine glass.
Again, I tried to start, "It's different then last years…"
"Did she use the catalogue?" James questioned.
"What did she ask for, Christa? Something expensive? A pony?" James laughed at himself. Mia already had a pony—last years present.
I stayed silent and James's laugher died away nervously. Pulling out the sparkling green paper, I passed it to him.
"Jesus!" James swore, adjusting the geeky glasses on the end of his nose, "She asked for—"
I cut him off; "James, hush! She's asleep, you'll wake her!"
My husband nodded a little, then glanced back at me, "Where did she learn about this stuff? Christa, a six-year old panicked about AIDS isn't normal."
I shrugged, then took back the list as James tried to sound out Mia's horribly misspelled wishes.
"The first thing on her list," I started, "Is money—"
"That ain't so abnormal," James decided with a scoff, "And we have plenty of money."
"—for the Homeless shelter down on Mara Street."
James sniffed, sitting a little more rigidly.
"She wants us to love—"
"Her? We do!" Again, James interrupted before I could finish.
"—people of all cultures. Mia wants, in her name, a donation to an AIDS research foundation, a yellow Lance Armstrong cancer bracelet, twenty cans of dog food donated to the Humane Society and a donation of baby chicks to be sent to Africa to a family living in poverty."
James was finally silent.
I looked at him nervously, setting the paper on the coffee table, closer to him then to me.
"Mia isn't normal…" I decided to break the silence, "She doesn't want toys or a kitten, candy or a make-up kit. Mia wants to help the world."
James glanced at me. His face was shadowed in the dark room, the lights of the Christmas tree casting colorful patterns on his dark skin.
He made his decision then, sitting up and setting his wine glass on the list.
"Go to the pet store first thing tomorrow. Pick up twenty chicks of assorted genders and that dog food she wants us to donate. I'll cover the money donations." James sniffed again, almost nervously.
I set my hand on his thigh, smiling into his eyes. "She'll like that," I promised.
Going back to his normal self, James stood, adjusting his glasses and walking out of the room—but not before I caught his words.
Why can't there be more Mias on this earth? Happy holidays to you all!