"But she promised!" Jackie wailed. Her mother had just told her that her big sister Kayla wasn't coming home for Christmas. This was Kayla's first year at college and little Jackie had been so lost without her. Ever since Thanksgiving she'd been eagerly counting down the days until Christmas vacation when Kayla would be home.
"I know Sweetie," her mom said gently, "But Kayla is grown up now and she wants to go skiing in the mountains with her friends this Christmas. Doesn't that sound like fun?"
"No, she should be here with us for Christmas like she promised," Jackie sobbed. Stomping up the stairs to her room in tears, she defiantly pronounced "You're wrong, I know Kayla will come!"
As her mother passed Jackie's bedroom door a little later she could hear Jackie crying and it broke her heart. The truth was that she was feeling just as blue about Kayla's decision. It had been her and Jack and the two girls together at Christmas all these years. She knew things were changing, and she didn't begrudge Kayla the exciting holiday trip with her friends, but Jackie was right, Christmas wasn't going to be the same this year.
Jackie remained subdued in the final days leading up until Christmas, but insisted they hang up Kayla's stocking and set her Santa cocoa mug out on the sidebar along with theirs. On the afternoon of Christmas Eve she took up watch in the big bay window and sat there for hours staring out at the snowy front yard.
When suppertime came Jackie refused to budge. Jackie's dad brought her a plate of of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut in star shapes and sprinkled with colored sugar, and glass of milk with a candycane striped straw, hoping to cheer her up a bit. Jackie barely managed a smile.
Finally Jackie's Mom had to lead her away from the window and upstairs to take her bath. Tears streamed down the little girl's face as her mom tucked her into bed. "It will still be Christmas tomorrow and I bet you'll find some wonderful things waiting for you underneath the tree!" she said trying to lift the little girl's heavy heart.
"All I want for Christmas is for Kayla to come home," she sobbed.
"I know she will call you tomorrow to tell you Merry Christmas, won't it be good to hear her voice?" Kayla nodded, but it really wasn't much consolation. She didn't understand why her sister would break her promise to come home when she had never, ever broken a promise before.
"She must like her new friends better than me" Jackie thought to herself, and she fell asleep feeling like the loneliest little girl in the world.
In the middle of the night Jackie woke to the sound of jingle bells. Her heart couldn't resist feeling a bit of excitement as she tiptoed down the stairs, thinking just maybe she would catch a glimpse of Santa this year. Half way down the stairway she peeked thru the railing and let out a squeal so loud it woke her parents, who bounded out of bed just in time to see Jackie flying down the remaining stairs straight into the arms of her beloved big sister.
"Merry Christmas" said Kayla grinning at her parents, as she swooped Jackie up in the biggest bear hug ever. "I just couldn't imagine Christmas without my little sister, so I decided it was time to come home."
Jackie, still clinging tightly to Kayla and her eyes sparkling brightly, turned to her parents and announced "See, I told you she would keep her promise! I knew she would come!"
Is there anything more beautiful than the faith of a child? Promises are a sacred trust... keep yours!
This post is linked up at Two Shoes Tuesday,
where the prompt this week is "promise".