A quiet Christmas for Carol

Published 9:30 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2014

By Frank Roberts

Quiet though she was, the little girl seemed to hold an unusual fascination for those who knew her.

It became a game for her friends to get her to talk. They would chatter away, trying to get her to chatter with them, walk with them, study with them, but unless she felt it was 100 percent necessary, she seldom spoke with them.

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“Hey, Carol, look at that Santa in the window, said Lorrie, another 8-year-old, this one easily described as bouncy. “And look at that pretty doll — it walks and talks.”

“Yeah, it talks,” said Brenda who, like the doll, was usually talkative. “That’s more than Carol does.”

Brenda and Lorrie laughed. Carol managed a weak smile.

The youngsters were mingling with the last-minute Christmas shoppers. They peeked in store windows, stared at the seasonal items. Two of the girls chatted away about tomorrow morning.

“My stocking is hanging up. I got a giant-sized one this year,” said Brenda, a tall-for-her-age pony-tailed youngster. She raised her arms to illustrate the stocking’s size.

“Don’t forget milk and stuff for Santa,” Brenda said. She and Lorrie resumed their giggling, both gently poking Carol, who merely nodded.

Lorrie tried to skip up the street, getting as far as a portly gentleman. She bumped his stomach. He smiled and walked on.

“He was almost as fat as Santa,” Brenda said. She and Lorrie resumed their giggling. Again, Carol nodded.

“What time you gettin’ up tomorrow morning?” Brenda asked. “About six,” said Lorrie. “How about you, Carol?”

A shrug of the shoulders.

The girls continued their stroll, with Brenda’s mother judiciously walking a block or so behind them. Two of the girls were talking and laughing — the other, just listening.

Christmas music was being played through loudspeakers, Brenda and Lorrie singing along with “Jingle Bells,” one of them singing along later to “Silent Night.”

The trio continued their seasonal “walk-along,” checking the store windows, eyeing Santa’s scattered helpers.

The minutes were slipping by, seemingly faster than the big sidewalk clock. Goodies and smiling faces became one. Soon, there was a traditional Christmas season snowfall.

* * *

“Have a good time, angel?” It was a simple question from Carol’s dad. “Well,” he said, sliding next to her on the couch, “what did you see?”

As she looked at the dark-complexioned man, she recalled last year, and the day he gave her the news. She was adopted — something she had already known.

“Mikey and Diane — well,” he stammered, “they’re our children.”

Mr. Horak meant well. It was just that diplomacy was not his strong point.

“You and mommy love each other, and you love Mikey and Diane,” Carol said. “You wanted to share that love.”

Horak jumped at the opportunity to feel more ‘feelingful’. “That’s right, darling.”

His voice was as soft as his smile, as he said, “we love you just as much. It’s just that — your situation is different. You had already been born. We saw you and wanted you to be part of our family.”

Carol wanted to throw her arms around “Daddy,” because he had given her love, and did his best to make her feel part of the family.

She followed that thought with action, and, she hugged him tightly. He kissed her forehead, and mumbled, “I love you.”

Mikey and Diane came in a few moments later, running straight for the family’s healthy-looking Christmas tree. Carol watched as her 14-year-old brother, and 12-year-old sister played the Yuletide guessing game of trying to figure out the contents of the colorful packages.

“Hey, Carol,” Mike practically yelled, “what do you think you’re gettin’? Huh?”

Carol moved tree-side, looked at her siblings and said, simply and softly, “I just don’t know.”

“Hold it,” Horak said, camera in hand, “this will make a nice picture.” He posed the youngsters in front of the tree for a standard holiday photograph. “Christmas Eve,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”

Mrs. Horak looked, said nothing, but the look on her face showed pride. She felt the love that is always emphasized around Dec. 25. Problems of the past year became history for a little while. The pile of bills, the sicknesses, the arguments, all seemed distant for the blessed moment.

Her world was “now.”

“Okay, kids, time to go to bed — big day tomorrow, you know,” she said.

In moments, the children were under their respective blankets, Mrs. Horak briefly visiting each youngster for good night kisses. She listened as they prayed “the Lord my soul to keep,” Carol seemingly praying with a bit of extra strength.

As she kissed her, Mrs. Horak thought the youngster felt warm, attributing it to holiday fever and time spent in the cold air. She followed the age-old doctoral advice — a baby aspirin and a gulp of water. She wished the child, pleasant dreams.

It was Christmas Eve and children here, there and yonder believed Santa was en-route.


Momma Horak came running into Carol’s room. “Are you all right, angel?” Carol’s voice was calm. “Yes, momma.”

When momma bent down to kiss her daughter, Carol grabbed her around the neck and, with all the strength she could muster, the little girl kissed her and said, “I love you and Daddy very much.”


It was Christmas morning. Youngsters everywhere were tearing open the carefully wrapped packages. Carol, though, sat and sobbed, and absorbed the scene before her.

Then, she looked heavenward and said, “Father, they don’t seem to know you.”

She was not addressing the father who took her in. She was addressing the Heavenly Father who took her in.

“I tried hard to tell them about you. They would listen, but they wouldn’t hear. You are all I know. I couldn’t say much else.”

She felt the hand of God upon her.

“And – on your son’s birthday….”

“Yes, I know.” The voice was soft.

Carol then beamed, a perfect, lovely smile.

She thought about her family. “There is hope, Father, because there is love. Love. Love.”

She thought about the family she had been visiting, smiling as she recalled that Mr. and Mrs. Horak often called her “Angel.”

She cried. They were tears of….

During a 60-year career spanning newspapers, radio and television, Frank Roberts has been there and done that. Today, he’s doing it in retirement from North Carolina, but he continues to keep an eye set on Suffolk and an ear cocked on country music. Email him at froberts73@embarqmail.com.