“I am sorry ma’am, but these children are wards of the state. We will have to take them back to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson’s home, until after the holidays. Then we will find another foster care home that will take them, or they will go into a State run home, “Miss. Beasley told Joy.
“I want them, and I want to adopt them, so why can’t they stay here with me? I told the officer on the phone, yesterday, that I was going to talk to a lawyer Monday, to see what it would take to adopt them. I already love these children and I just wanted to tell the police where they were and that they were all right.”
Wiping her eyes, she continued, “How can you take Daniel and Tina away today, it is Christmas. Please let them stay here with me.”
“I am sorry Miss Jenkins, but we will have to take them now, the officer said.
Joy was crying as she allowed Officer Delray and Miss. Beasley into her home.
When they walked into the living room, Robert and David were sitting in the middle of the floor playing trains, while wearing tiaras, long dangling earrings, with long lace shawls draped around their necks and pretending to sip from teacups. The sight was so hilarious, that Joy laughed even though tears were streaming down her face.
Robert was the first to look around and see Joy’s tear-stained face and the two people there with her.
Getting up and quickly walking to her, he reached out and took her in his arms. “What is it Joy, what’s wrong,” he asked her.
Joy’s father had turned around to see what was going on when Robert had jumped up and he was now standing beside Joy.
Joy explained to them,what was happening, through tears and sobs.
Daniel and Tina had run to Joy and were hugging her tightly and crying.
“Please don’t let them take us Joy, please, please,” she cried.
“If they make us go back Tina,” Daniel said, “We will just run away again. I won’t let them hit you every again, I promise,” Daniel told her through tears.
Miss Beasley looked at Officer Delray with a questioning look on her face. Turning to look at Daniel, she said, “Daniel, who hit Tina?”
“Mr. Johnson hit her most of the time and Mrs. Johnson hit her sometimes.”
“Do you know why they hit her Daniel?”
“Because she cried at night. She just missed our Mama and Daddy, but Mr. Johnson would slap her in the face for crying. One time Tina started crying when Mrs. Johnson told her she could not have any dinner and Mr. Johnson hit her in the back with his fist. I yelled at him, and he slapped me, then he told me we could not have any food for two nights. That night is when I opened the bedroom window and we ran away.”
Officer Delray looked at Joy and asked, “Have you seen any bruises on either of the kids?”
“Yes I have, Tina has a large bruise on he left shoulder and she has what looks to be finger bruises on her arms,” joy told him. “When I asked her about it, she told me what Daniel just told you. Then I asked about the bruises on her arms and she said they were from Mrs. Johnson shaking her, and telling her to shut up crying.”
Joy felt an arm go around her waist. When she looked, she saw it was her mother standing there. Beverly Jenkins handed her daughter a handkerchief, and then reach out to both children and ran her hands through their hair, in a comforting way.
As Officer Delray questioned the children, Joy asked her mother where her father and Robert had gone.
“Robert came to tell me what was going on and I asked him to stay and take the biscuits out of the oven. When I walked in here, your father took off towards the kitchen. I am sure they will be back in a moment.”
Joy nodded her head and wiped her eyes with the handkerchief her mother gave her.
David came back into the room and whispered into Beverly’s ear. Nodding her head, she said, “Officer Delray, it is early and these children have not been fed yet. I have cooked a special Christmas breakfast for them. I can tell you are a decent caring man, so please, at least let these babies eat breakfast with us. Will you and Miss Beasley join us this morning; we would be honored to have you join us, in our Christmas morning breakfast?”
Looking towards Miss. Beasley to see what she wanted to do, Officer Delray looked as if he wanted her to agree. After a few minutes, she nodded her head.
“Yes, it is bad enough that we have to pull these children away from a home in which they are obviously happy. I have known Daniel and Tina for over two years now, and this is the first time that they have shown any signs of caring for anyone.”
As they followed Beverly, everyone turned to see why the bell on the Christmas tree started ringing. There was no reason for the bell to ring no one was there.
Mary Beasley was puzzled, she could not understand how it happened or why it happened, but for some reason, her usual tough shell had failed her. Why should I feel sad about taking these children from this home? While it was true that this family seemed to love these children and the children seem to love everyone here, she always went by the book. If the book said to take children then she took the children, never feeling bad or sad, just doing her job. In addition, why did she have the feeling that a burden had been lifted from her shoulders when she heard the bell tinkle, she asked herself. Slowly shaking her head, she followed everyone into the dining room.
Joy fixed David and Tina’s plate first. The two children waited until everyone fixed their plates and sat down with them. When they reached out to take each other’s hands to say grace, Mary Beasley was again surprised. It had been a very long time since she lived with her parents and somewhere through the passage of time; she had quit giving thanks for her meals.
Looking at Officer Delray, she knew saying grace was something he did every day also; Mary felt her heart soften once again.
Once again, everyone around the table heard the bell on the tree ring.
“Joy, how come the Christmas bell keeps ringing? I heard it ring before we left the living room also,” Tina asked.
“Well sweetheart, once when I was a little girl the Christmas bell rang and my Mom told me that my guardian angel was pleased with me. She said that I must have made a very good decision, or did something that would please God.”
“I want to be just like you when I grow up Joy. I love you,” Tina said as she stood up and hugged her.
Turning his head and looking at Joy, Daniel said, Joy,”I love you too, and I love Robert, David, and Beverly. When we grow up, and they let us leave that place, Miss. Beasley is making us go to, can we come back to live with you?”
“Daniel you and Tina can always come home. We love you. You will be part of our family, forever.”
As Joy started to cry, the phone rang.
Robert told them that he would take the call, and left the table.
When breakfast was finished, Officer Delray thanked Beverly and David for their hospitality and rose from the table.
“I am sorry, but if you would gather the children’s clothes, we need to be leaving.”
The whole family, three adults and two children embraced each other in a united family hug. Each one crying as if their heart was broken.
Joy and her parent’s held the children close as they walked into the living room, to start packing the children’s things.
“Joy, Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins, I have someone here I would like for everyone to meet. If you remember earlier tonight I told Joy I had another present for her,” Robert asked them.
They all agreed with him and then he continued, “I would like to introduce you to Mr. Allen Kinsley. He has something you may want to hear.”
“Can this wait? We need to leave quickly. We have already been here longer than we should have,” Officer Delray told them.
“No Officer, you will not be taking the children today or any other day. I have a court order here and it says that these children are to be left in this home pending adoption procedures. It is signed by Judge Thomas Morrow, dated, signed and witnessed,” Mr. Kinsley said as he handed the officer the papers.
After both Miss. Beasley and Officer Delray read the papers, they congratulated Joy on her pending motherhood. They left smiling and saying merry Christmas to everyone.
“Thank you Robert, how did you manage to make this happen,” Joy asked him.
Before you thank me Joy, you need to hear the rest of what Mr. Morrow has to tell you.”
Joy was a little apprehensive at the tone of his voice, but she continued to hold his hand while Mr. Morrow explained everything.
Once he had finish telling Joy and her family all the details, Joy just sat there with a strange look on her face. Slowly she turned and looked at Robert and burst into laughter. “So, what this means is that as soon as the adoption papers are final, that I will be legally their mother and you will legally be their father?”
“Yeah, I think that just about says it all,” Robert told her. “It was the only way to get this done in a hurry. I just told the Judge that I loved these two and I wanted to be responsible for their care and rearing as well. I told him that I was going to ask you to marry me, as soon as I could convince you that you love me as much as I love you. Judge Morrow said that when we marry, if you will have me, all we have to do is call him and Daniel and Tina will have my last name when you do.
Smiling up at him, they embraced and kissed the long sweet kiss of true love, while two extremely happy children, embraced them.
“Well my love,” David said as he kissed his tearful wife on the cheek. “It is defiantly Christmastime Again…
Outside in the swirling snowflakes, Nick, Grace, Mercy and Faith stood looking in through the window.
“Well Nickolas, it would seem you certainly knew the perfect Christmas gifts for everyone in this family and town,” Mercy told him.
“No Mercy, the only thing I did was to see that each one received their gifts on time. If I remember correctly my dear you are the one who prayed for help for Robert, Faith prayed for help for the children and Grace prayed for help for Joy and the many that lost their jobs. Now I must be going, but I hope to see you next year.”
Then Nickolas placed his index finger to the side of his nose and as his reindeer rose into the sky, he yelled to them, Merry Christmas.
“Ladies, I believe it is truly Christmastime Again,” Mercy said, as the three guardian angels shed their earthly clothes for their heavenly white robes, that glisten as the new fallen snow.Spreading their wings, they ascended towards the heavens.
The Christmas bell rang, once again.