It was Christmas. Every kid’s favorite holiday. The holiday where they can go sledding, make snow angels with their friends, eat junk food, and sing Christmas carols with their friends. The only night where they were actually eager to go to sleep because they know Santa will come. The most exciting part being Christmas morning, when they open their eyes and smile because they know when they run down the stairs, gifts will be scattered underneath the Christmas Tree. That’s how Christmas went for most children. It was exciting. Watching Christmas movies with their family and putting cookies on a plate for Santa. The whole concept was exciting to everyone. Everyone except Kira Boone. Kira was a deaf orphan girl. She was used to watching happy families outside the window, seeing children run into their parent's arms. Kira yearned for that. She didn’t care about the gifts, she just wanted someone that loved her. Since Kira was deaf everyone overlooked her. She would be turning 9 in a few months. The Matron, social workers, and everyone at the orphanage adored her. She was well behaved, and never caused any problems. The Alderidge family were rich and wanted to adopt a child to improve their image. John Aldridge was the town’s mayor. He was a busy man always working, not having much time for his wife or son. His wife, Teresa didn’t mind so much because she would keep herself occupied by shopping, and talking with her lady friends. Their son, Ben was a troubled spoiled boy, who spent most of his time in his room, playing with new advanced games his parents would buy him every day. John would come home from work every night to take out that Teresa ordered. They never ate at the table as a family. Everyone went to their separate rooms, going through their phones. Before they would go to bed, they’d all shout goodnight to each other and repeat. This was a normal routine for the Alderidge family. Later that week, John told Teresa his plans about adopting. Teresa didn’t care as long as the child didn’t get in the way of her lifestyle. They all agreed not to adopt a baby, for those reasons. Ben was annoyed and didn’t want a brother or sister, but he knew when it came to something like this he wouldn’t get his way. Ben didn’t want to go for the ride to the orphanage. He didn’t care and thought it was stupid, but John and Terese made him go. During the ride on the way to the orphanage, Ben stared out the window, dreading everything. When they finally arrived at the orphanage, Ben looked at the building in disgust “What type of orphanage is this? You can’t seriously expect us to go in there and greet these people. They probably have diseases.” Ben scoffed.
“This is a good orphanage. ” John says.
“If this is a good orphanage, I’d hate to see a bad one.” Ben snickered.
Teresa turns around from the passenger seat. “Quiet! You will not behave this way when we get inside. We have an image to maintain, so save whatever comments you have after we get her.”
Ben scrunches his nose “Her?! I don’t want a sister!” He yells.
“What’s wrong with a sister?” John asks.
“Are you seriously asking me that? Everything! They’re annoying. I don’t want her to be bugging me to play dolls with her!”
Teresa sighs “Just think of it this way, if we got a boy he’d probably want to hog all your games.”
Ben crosses his arms “Whatever.”
John finishes parking the car, and they all get out. They walk to the orphanage, none of them excited. Before John could knock on the door, it swings open.
An older woman greets and smiles at them. “Good morning Mr. Aldgeride! It’s so nice to finally meet you! I’ve heard great things about you, and I must say, what you’re doing is fantastic.”
She extends her hand out, expecting a handshake. John looks at her hand with disapproving eyes, stuffing his hands in his pockets. Embarrassed, the old woman quickly takes back her hand.
“Where are the children?” He asks.
The woman laughs “Straight to the point I see. I like that. Very well then. Follow me and you shall meet the children.”
They follow the old woman down a long hall, where she leads them to a door. “This is where we keep the kids during playtime.” She says while opening the door. John and Teresa walk into the room, Ben standing behind them, unimpressed. All the kids in the room were lively. They were jumping, screaming, and running around, playing with toys and dolls.
“You gotta be kidding me.” Ben sighs.
Teresa subtly hits his arm, signaling for Ben to shut up.
John looks around the room with a disapproval glance. John interrupts the silence “Isn’t there any well-mannered kids.”
The old woman bites her lip. “Well, they are kids Mr. Alderidge. They like to play.”
“But, if that’s what you’re looking for I can give you a brief description of the quietest kids.”
They follow the woman to a faraway corner in the room. “That girl you see playing with the Ariel doll is Melissa. She’s a very sweet child.”
John interrupts “I want to know all the cons of each child.” He stammers.
The woman gives him a baffled look. “These are kids, so I’m not going to say cons, but I can tell you the bad traits, though you have to remember no one is perfect.” She continues “Melissa is very sweet like I said, but she can be a little aggressive when it comes to the boys.” The woman laughs “She likes to jump and play with them, but…”
John immediately shakes his head “No, I’m not looking to be a grandfather. Next”
“The woman protests “But you didn’t let me..”
John interrupts her “I would like to see the next child please.”
The woman clears her throat. “Very well then. The next kid is Annabella. She’s the girl playing by the toy kitchen. She’s very quiet. The only thing is she has attachment issues. She doesn’t like staying alone very long.”
John rolls his eyes “Next.”
The woman sighs. “The next girl is Megan. Megan is the one in the middle, showing the other girls how to braid their hair. She’s a leader with a strong personality. She has a mind of her own.”
John scoffs “Absolutely not. I don’t need a child who disobeys.”
The woman suppresses a scowl. “The last girl that fits your description is Kira. She’s the one sitting in the corner reading.
“How unusual”. Teresa says. The woman nods “Yes, she’s definitely unique. She’s respectful, quiet, sweet, but stays to herself.”
“Why isn’t she playing like all the other girls. Is there something wrong with her?” John asks.
The woman shakes her head “No, she’s just a very reserved, guarded child I’ll say.”
John studies Kira, amused. “She’s perfect.” He says.
Teresa shoots him daggers. “John we haven’t even met her.” John rolls his eyes “Who cares. She fits the description perfectly.”
The woman fiddles with her fingers “I must warn you. Kira is a terrific kid. She’s the most well-behaved child, but she is deaf.”
John looks to the side in thought. Terese sighs “Well there goes that option.”
“We’ll take her.”
Ben, Teresa, and the woman all stare at John in shock. “What!?” Teresa says almost yelling. “John, how can we possibly have a deaf daughter? We’d have to write everything to her and learn sign language.”
“May I speak to my wife for a moment please?”
The woman nods “Of course, take all the time you need. I’ll be right here if you need me” John pulls Teresa to the side. He explained this would give him a great public image. Teresa didn’t like the idea at first, but once John mentioned that she won’t talk much, Teresa was convinced. Ben was furious. “Great, now what am I supposed to say to my friends when they come over? I don’t want a weird sister who can’t even understand what I say to her.”
John leans closer to Ben. “Don’t talk like that. I raised you better than that. After today she will be your sister.”
“Why do we have to do this?” Ben whines.
“Because saving a poor, deaf girl will look good for our reputation.” “This isn’t fair!” He yells, before storming off. John and Teresa tell the woman their final answer. They choose Kira. They get the papers ready and are finally ready to bring Kira home. On their ride home, everyone’s quiet. Ben sits in the back seat next to Kira staring at his phone, not moving his glance once. John and Teresa don’t say much. Kira smiles as she feels the fresh breeze through the window. She admires the trees and all the white snow. Kira’s never been this far from the orphanage before. She could tell her new family wasn’t very welcoming people, but she still smiled, because even if they hated her, she was finally in a family, and she couldn’t ask for more. When they arrive at their house, Kira gets out of the car and simply smiles. Ben says “You’d think after living in that shack, she’d have a more impressed reaction.” Teresa rolls her eyes. They walk into their home, and everyone goes their separate ways, leaving Kira there standing alone. She didn’t mind the loneliness, for she was used to it. The kids at the orphanage never wanted to talk to her, and those that did stopped because they quickly realized she couldn’t understand them. Kira roams the house, admiring the unusual things. She stops in front of the TV. She’s never seen such a big TV before. She couldn’t believe that there were people who lived like this. She soon roams upstairs. She sees John who’s busy typing on the computer. Kira quickly leaves not wanting to disturb him. Then she approaches Teresa who’s on the couch talking on the phone. She’s busy too. She goes to Ben’s room. Ben’s playing a video game. When he spots her he storms to the door, yelling at her. Though she couldn’t understand him, she knew whatever he said wasn’t pleasant. Ben slams the door in her face. Kira then finds a pink room, which she assumes is hers. Things were decorated so nicely. She’s never seen such a beautiful room before. A week goes by. Everyone continues to do their own things. Kira was grateful but sad. She wishes she could talk like a normal person and have actual conversations with her new family, though something told her even if she did talk, they’d probably still ignore her. Kira spends her time in the living room reading books, and writing in her little black Moleskine notebook. Everyone just passes by her saying nothing, and that’s when she realizes they weren’t just ignoring her, they were ignoring each other. too. Christmas was coming, and she couldn’t wait for this would be the first Christmas she would have a family to celebrate it with. The next day Kira made the family dinner she learned how to make from watching youtube. Everyone was all in separate rooms, so she brought the tray of food to their rooms, but they were always too busy to accept it. However, this didn’t stop Kira. She was determined to get a reaction from them. She would bring dinner on a tray to them every night, and they always ended up throwing it out or declining it. One day Kira had enough of the avoidance, so she turned the electricity off through the fuze box and unplugged the cord that connects the wifi. All the TVs and everything suddenly turned off. Then all at once, everyone scrambled to the living room, confused as to what happened. She could see John yelling and swearing under his breath. Kira gave John a notepad saying she wanted to eat as a family and wanted them to eat the dinner she made for them. John rolled his eyes. “I don’t have time for this. Don’t ever do that again Kira!” He says pointing his finger at her. He begins to walk away. Teresa sees the tears well up in Kira’s eyes, and she begins to feel guilt. “That’s it.” She says while taking Johns and Ben's phone. They both look at her in shock. “What was that for?!”
“She wants us to eat as a family, so that’s what we’ll do. I’m not accepting no. Now we are going to go to the kitchen table and enjoy the meal Kira so kindly made for us. Anyone who argues will be hearing it from me.” Teresa says.
They all give her dumbfounded looks.
“Why?” Ben asks repulsed.
“Because that’s what families do.” She says looking at Kira, giving her a slight smile. Kira smiles back. For the first time, they all eat at the kitchen table as a family. Kira is digging into her chocolate cake she made, getting chocolate all over her face.
“We’re having cake for dinner?” Ben snarls. Teresa nudges Ben’s arm. Ben rolls his eyes ``Who cares, it’s not like she can hear anyway.” Suddenly John’s stomach rumbles and he farts at the table. He’s appalled. “John!” Teresa yells. “Gosh, I’m sorry I don’t know what got into me.” Then suddenly Teresa farts. John and Ben look at her with wide eyes, not expecting that. Teresa says baffled “Excuse me. I don’t know why I did that, I’m sorry.” Then John burps. Ben starts to laugh at the situation. “Ben this isn’t funny!” Teresa yells. Ben shrugs “S-sorry” He burps. Teresa turns to Kira “What kind of cake did you make?” Teresa can’t hear but understands enough. She walks over to the kitchen counter and hands her the recipe. The recipe was a fiber cake. Teresa scoffs “No wonder, it’s a fiber cake!” Ben giggles. “This isn’t funny, how am I supposed to meet up with my friends now?” Teresa farts, her cheeks turning bright red. John chuckles and Ben bursts out laughing “No kidding. They would kick you out of their friend group” Teresa playfully hits Ben on the arm. They can’t contain it anymore and everyone starts laughing, tears in their eyes. Even John is laughing now. Kira smiles. She’s happy she finally got them to interact. Though it was almost torturous at first, within minutes everyone was smiling and laughing having a good time, completely forgetting about their phones and electronics.
“Oh shoot I forgot I have a paper to write!” John exclaims while excusing himself and running upstairs.
Everyone’s suddenly brought to reality. Teresa leaves to call her friend, and Ben leaves to play video games with his friend. Though it didn’t last long, it was progress. The next day Kira makes them all dinner and brings up the trays to their rooms, and to her surprise, John and Teresa both accept it this time. A week passes and Christmas is almost here. Kira writes John a note to get a Christmas tree. At first, he thought it was ludicrous, but he eventually got sick of her begging. So to shut her up, he got it. Kira sets it all up, putting each ornament on by herself. Since everyone else was too busy, she put the gifts she made inside mailing envelopes and put them under the tree. She was so excited for them to open them. Days pass and soon it’s Christmas morning. There were so many gifts. Though most were for Ben, that didn't bother her. John has a suitcase, getting ready to walk out the door for work. What!? No. Kira refused to let him leave on Christmas. She sprints to him and clings onto his feet, preventing him from moving. “Kira get off me, you’re going to make me late!” He yells. Kira doesn’t budge. “Kira I’m serious. I have a very important meeting today. If you want more gifts then you have to let me go to work.” Kira shakes her head and quickly writes on paper and hands it to him. John sighs “What now?” He mutters.
Kira looks up at him, pleading. John sighs and reads it. It says “Why work hard for gifts, when the only gift we want is you home.” John freezes, reading it. Something about it stuck with him. It was true. He was working so hard every day to provide for them, but what’s the point if that means he can’t ever see them when that’s the most precious gift of all. The love and affection you give your family. John sighs “I guess one day won’t hurt.” Kira smiles. Ben and Teresa come downstairs. “Dad, what are you doing here?”
John smiles “I decided to stay home for Christmas this year.”
They smile. “Really?” Ben asks with a smile. John nods “Yes''.
“That’s great, I can meet up with my friends since you're staying home,” Teresa says. Kira pouts. Then Teresa sighs. “Or I can stay home… But what will we do all day?” Kira smirks and gets out a charades board game. They all look at each other.
“I’m staying home from work for a game?” John says.
Ben sighs “I guess I’ll play but only a few minutes.”
Minutes turn into hours, and they’re all laughing having a good time. It was finally beginning to feel like a family.
“Do you guys want to go sledding?” Teresa suggests.
John furrows his eyebrows “I thought you hated the snow because it made you cold and wet.”
Teresa shrugs. “I can tolerate it one day.” She grins.
Ben exclaims “Really!? We haven’t gone sledding in…”
Teresa nods “I know, it’s been a while.”
Then Ben realizes “Wait there’s a big arena challenge in the video game tonight. I’ve been preparing all month for this.”
John shrugs “It’s okay son. Do what’s most important to you.”
Ben nods. “Thanks, dad.”
Ben starts getting his jacket on.
“What are you doing?” Teresa asks.
“Aren’t we going sledding?”
John and Teresa look at each other in shock. “Yeah, of course,” Teresa says. They all go sledding and bond. They have an amazing time. Everything was going great until they came home to fire trucks parked outside their home. When they pulled their car up in the driveway all their hearts sunk. Their house was on fire! Smoke covered the whole sky turning it black. John gets out of the car and approaches a fireman asking him what happened. Apparently, there was a casserole left in the oven. Teresa smacks her head. “Oh my god, I completely forgot about it!”
“When is it safe to go back?” The firefighter shrugs “Probably in a few weeks.
John cusses. “It’s Christmas Eve, where are we supposed to go!” Everyone’s upset. They just lost their home for Christmas. They lost their gifts and who knows how many other valuable gifts. Nowhere to go, they are forced to go to a hotel. John uses part of the $20,000 his uncle left him to help pay for the damages of the house. Everyone’s angry and in a bad mood.
“We should have never gone sledding! This is your fault!” Ben yells at his mom.
Teresa defends herself “Oh, sorry for suggesting something I know you would all love. I didn’t even do it for me. I hate sledding. I did it for you guys!”
Ben laughs “That’s a shock. That must be the first time in your life you were thinking about someone other than yourself, and you burn the house down!”
They scream, arguing at each other. John stands in the corner, distraught. His hand resting on his forehead. All his work papers were in that house. If they were destroyed in the fire, he didn’t know what he’d do. Kira sits on the hotel bed, frowning. Everything she did was for nothing. They all were back to ignoring and yelling at each other.
“Some Christmas this is. Not even one gift to open” Ben spats.
Then Kira remembers something. It was something that was left to her from her mom at the orphanage. It was something very important to Kira, but she wanted to give it to Ben. She hands him a red box. Ben looks at her, confused. Ben hesitantly opens the box. Lying at the bottom of the box was a diamond necklace. Ben was familiar with real diamonds since his mom was obsessed with them, so he knew a real diamond when he saw one, and this necklace was something like he’s never seen before. It looked like it could cost a fortune. It was something very valuable and probably worth millions. Ben's mouth dropped. How could she possess something like this? Kira then hands Ben a letter that says “My mom left me this at the orphanage. I want you to trade it for money and get whatever you want.” Ben was speechless. He couldn't understand how a girl who had nothing, was giving her only valuable possession to a boy who had everything. Ben was touched. It was the kindest gesture he has ever seen. He treated her so poorly in the beginning, and then she goes and does this.
“Why?” Ben asks.
Kira just smiles.
Ben ponders... She was such a strange little girl. Nothing seemed to faze her when it came to materialistic things. Most girls her age would jump for joy at a gift or toys, but all she cared about was the sentimental value. The diamond was important to her, and not because of what it was worth, but because that was the only thing she had left from her mom, and she was giving it to me. Kira taught us all a powerful lesson. When we brought her home, she brought life to the house. She taught my mom, me, even my dad who was as stubborn as a mule an important lesson… It was at that moment when Ben realized they didn’t save Kira. It was Kira who saved them. She made them into a family again, and that was the greatest gift of all. This was the only Christmas where Ben had no gifts, no video games, and spent it in a crappy hotel, but it was also the only Christmas he spent as a real family. Despite everything, this was his favorite Christmas of all, and it was all thanks to his sister, Kira.