Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Girl, 7.

Our church put up a tree with ornaments representing kids who need gifts this year. We were invited to select an ornament and bring back a gift with the same ornament attached.

I looked carefully before I selected a little pink gingerbread man. “Girl” was circled (in case the gendered color was insufficient indication), with "7" hastily scribbled next to it.

As it turns out, it's not easy to buy for a seven year old girl you’ve never met. They have pretty unique personalities, you know. What would she like? What would she be into? Does she like art or music or math? Would she prefer a puzzle or a doll? Is she quiet or noisy? Sporty or bookish? Some lovely combination of all these things?

(Of course, this kind of wondering is familiar to me. Same questions, different context.)

I didn’t want to overspend, but somehow it became very important that the gifts be perfect. The stakes felt high. I was reading gift guides and Amazon reviews and trying to decide what would best suit her, this seven-year-old girl I don't get to meet.

I finally chose a sparkly snowflake gemstone necklace and a small jewelry box to tuck it in. I added a paintable butterfly house because everyone like butterflies and paint, right? And then I included a book because books are my favorite and hopefully she likes to read.

At least with a bit of variety, I hope something in the gift bag strikes a chord with my little gift recipient. The truth is that I’m sure it means far more to me than it will to this kiddo. It's probably obvious that I bought for her like I was buying for a Duckworth girl. I don't know what all little girls like, but I know my own.

It was remarkable how much the process meant to me. How fun it was, how much I fussed over it. It was the same old shopping, but how different it felt to choose a book for 7- to 9-year-olds, a painting kit for ages 6+, a delicate necklace.

It was Big Kid Territory. I felt both out of place and like I should belong there--you know, just doing some shopping for a seven-year-old girl. It offered me a teensy glimpse of what might have been in my online shopping carts and paper shopping bags. There was nothing so different from what is already on my Christmas shopping list this year, and yet it was completely different. Because this girl is seven.

It was really just a tangible way to acknowledge the “what ifs” I can’t escape. It was fun. And it's a tiny piece of good I can put out in the world in memory of Eliza.

I miss her.

I miss what December would look like for us if she were here.

Whoever this little girl is, who gets this gift bag loaded with love and broken dreams, I hope she feels a bit of the love. And I hope somehow that Eliza feels it, too.


  1. This made me cry. I did the exact same thing this year and I loved it. Thinking of you this week and esp tomorrow. Xoxo

  2. I think this is the most beautiful and tender post you have ever written.

  3. Lovely. Thinking of you and Eliza, and all the what ifs.

  4. Beautiful post and sentiment. Our daughter should be one now and I cannot control the what if's that haunt, especially because several of my closest friends have shadow children to our Evelyn, children who lived and who are the {relative} same age as Evelyn would be, had she, too, remained earth-side. I can't help but look at them and wonder...and wonder.

    We also chose names from a Salvation Army "giving tree" this year (a little 11 yr old girl named Daisy and a little 12 year old boy named Ralph) and like you, we enjoyed the shopping adventure that ensued for these children we'll never meet. I believe your Eliza feels the love you showed the little girl you chose, just as she feels your love each and every day. Hugs to you <3

  5. Gorgeous post. Thinking of you & Eliza. <3

  6. Now I'm crying and thinking of what I'd buy for a four-year-old girl. Thinking of you this holiday season.

  7. <3
    a beautiful tribute to your girl.

    I am always in charge of buying gifts for our nephews, including both the one that is a year old, and the other 9 months younger than Jack. I feel incredibly awkward buying boy things because I simply have no idea.