Christmas was coming, and Savitrie had been a good girl for almost a whole year. For a girl of seven, that
had been a monumental feat. Being good is not easy when you haven't learned the rules, and Mummy and Daddy keep adding new
ones all the time. But Savitrie had tried her best, and even Mummy had to admit that she had been a good girl.
There was a special reason why Savitrie had tried so hard to be good. That reason was Christmas. Last year,
Savitrie had learned the secret of Santa Claus, and that was so important that she had remembered it all year long. It was
simple, really. On Boxing Day she had misbehaved, and her Mummy had told her the secret.
"Savi, why you behaving so? Look at all the nice toys Santa Claus give you yesterday. You don't know he does
only bring toys for nice children. If you get on bad so, he wouldn't bring nothing for you next year Christmas!"
So that was the secret! Good children got nice presents and bad children got none. Savitrie decided there
and then that she would be a good girl until next Christmas. That way, Santa Claus would have to give her the best present
* * * * * * * * * *
The year started as usual. After the Christmas holidays, Savitrie went back to school. Her birthday was in
February, and she had a big party. Then came the Easter holidays, and a week spent at her Granny's house in San Fernando.
And it was her Granny who she first told of her plan. There are some things that only a Granny can understand.
Granny did not laugh at Savitrie, nor did she discourage her. She simply told her that a year was a long
time for a little girl to be good.
"Don't worry, Granny," Savitrie said. "I am seven years old now. I am a big girl."
"Yes my child," Granny agreed. "You really getting big."
And that was followed by the kind of hug that only a Granny could give.
* * * * * * * * * *
After the Easter holidays, Savitrie went back to school and things started to change. First of all, Daddy
stopped being nice. He started to quarrel with Savitrie about everything, and he quarrelled with Mummy too. Late at night
Savitrie would hear them, and she tried to understand. She could not. Daddy was afraid to lose something, and Mummy said that
she could keep things going for a while. Daddy shouted that no woman was going to mind him, and Mummy said that it would be
only until he found something else. Savitrie could not understand.
In July, Daddy stopped going to work. Mummy told Savitrie that he had been retrenched because of the recession.
She said that things would be hard until Daddy got another job, because her salary was small.
"But don't worry," Mummy added. "At least we will keep you in school. Leave us to worry about the money."
It seemed to Savitrie that her parents did a lot of worrying. Daddy no longer quarrelled, but he looked tired
and sad all the time. Some mornings he would dress and leave home early, to go to an interview. He would come home in the
evening looking even more sad and tired than before. Savitrie drew a mental picture of an interview as a horrible experience,
and she was secretly glad when, as time passed, the interviews became fewer and fewer.
The school year had ended in July, and the August holidays were not happy ones. By the time school re-opened
in September, Savitrie had learned the meaning of a tight budget. Some changes were hard to accept, like having to use a cousin's
old books instead of getting new ones. Worst of all was not going to any of her friend's birthday parties. Mummy always made
an excuse, like "we going out that day" or "you have a cold and you will spread it to the other children". But even seven-year-old
Savitrie could figure out the real reason: party dresses and birthday presents cost money.
Still, Savitrie kept her resolve. She was good. Even if Mummy and Daddy had to worry about money, she could
hope for Santa Claus and a great present. After all, she had been good all year, and it was almost Christmas time.
* * * * * * * * * *
The Christmas tree that graced Savitrie's home was a small but cheerful one. Mummy and Savitrie spent many
hours fixing up last year's decorations and adorning a guava branch which Daddy cut from the empty lot down the road. That
little tree made all at home forget the problem of money for a little while. Mummy and Daddy smiled a little more, and Savitrie
was ecstatic. Only one thing was missing. No brightly-wrapped boxes appeared below the tree. Every year, just a few days before
Christmas, presents would start appearing a few at a time. By Christmas Eve, the pile would be tempting. And on Christmas
Day, it would be even bigger. The new ones would come from Santa Claus. But this year was different.
On the night before Christmas, Savitrie was untroubled by the lack of presents under the tree. She made sure
to eat all of her dinner quickly, take her bath, and put on her pyjamas all by herself. By seven o'clock she decided that
it was time to go to bed. As she kissed her Mummy and Daddy goodnight, she said, "tomorrow I will get up early to open the
present that Santa Claus bring." Then she ran off to bed.
* * * * * * * * * *
It was a warm night, and the excitement of her expected present kept her awake. She tried hard to fall asleep,
knowing that Santa Claus would not come until she did. But she tossed and turned for a long time without drifting off. Finally,
however, the night grew cooler and excitement gave way to drowsiness. It was then that Savitrie noticed the boy standing by
the corner of her bed.
He was a young boy, just about Savitrie's age, and he wore the friendliest smile that she had ever seen.
"Who are you?" asked Savitrie, "and how you come in here?"
"You know me," the boy replied. "You will be celebrating my birthday tomorrow."
"Are you really Him?" asked Savitrie.
"Yes, I am," said the boy.
"Why you come to see me?" Savitrie questioned.
"I want to talk to you," He answered. "We have to talk about Christmas."
"But I know all about Christmas!" Savitrie countered. "I know about Christmas Trees, and Santa Claus, and
presents. I've been a good girl since last Christmas and Santa Claus will bring me a nice present tonight."
The boy shook his head. Then he smiled.
"It isn't about Santa Claus. It isn't about trees and presents. Christmas is the day my Father in Heaven
sent me here to help people. You know, that first Christmas Day I was just a tiny baby."
"Really?" asked Savitrie. "You could remember how it was?"
"Not much. Most of what I remember is what my Mummy told me when I was growing up."
"My Mummy said there were shepherds, and wise men who brought presents, and a star," Savitrie interjected.
"That is what my Mummy said too," said the Boy. "But I don't really remember. There is one thing that I think
I remember, though. That is the star that my Heavenly Father put in the sky for me to look at. I loved that star. It was so
bright and twinkly. That was the best present of all on that first Christmas Day."
* * * * * * * * *
Savitrie was envious, but only for a moment.
"My present tomorrow will be better than that," she responded. "Santa Claus will bring me a real nice present
because I was good for a whole year."
The Boy shook his head again. His voice was softer now more compassionate.
"You have to know this, Savi. Santa Claus does not bring your presents. Your parents do. My Father in Heaven
gave me a star on the first Christmas Day. Parents do the same for their children every year. These are the gifts of a parent's
Savitrie was confused. Then her face brightened.
"Well, I don't mind if is Santa Claus or Mummy and Daddy. I will still get a nice present for being good."
"You will get a present," said the Boy "but it might not be what you hope for."
Savitrie was hurt and disappointed.
"That not fair. I was good a whole year. And Granny say that a year is a long time for a little girl to be
good. I HAVE to get a nice present."
The Boy let her get that off her chest, then he spoke.
"Savi, you know that your parents love you. Whatever they give you will be the best that they can. But they
don't have money this year. You know that!"
"Yes," said Savitrie. "Daddy lose his job. Mummy say we must what is the word? economise."
"They can economise on money, but not on love. They saw how hard you tried to be a good girl all year. So
they scraped together what they could to buy you a present. There was nothing left over for their own presents, so yours will
be the only present under the tree tomorrow."
* * * * * *
* * * *
"Whatever I get, I will give Mummy and Daddy a big hug and kiss."
Her mind raced on.
"You think I could still get a special present for Christmas?"
The Boy's face clouded. Savitrie continued quickly.
"Not from Mummy and Daddy. Not from Santa Claus. From You. Your Father gave you a star on the first Christmas.
Could you give me one tonight?"
"Why do you want a star, Savi?"
"Well, Mummy and Daddy not getting no presents tomorrow. If you give me a star, I will wake them up early
tomorrow morning and give them it."
The Boy's smile was radiant as he pulled aside the curtain from the window.
"Choose your star, Savi. Take any one you want."
Savitrie gazed up into a tropical sky full of stars. Some were bright and piercing, while others were dim.
A few were coloured red or blue. There were so many! Finally, she noticed a tiny, twinkly star framed in the corner of her
window. It had a warm, friendly light, and that was the one that she chose.
* * * * * * * * * *
From high in the ceiling of the dark night sky, a warm, friendly star looked down to earth. Its beams travelled through
the silence of space to a loving home on that Christmas Eve. As the night breeze blew the curtains aside, the starlight entered
through the window and alighted on a pillow, next to the sleeping face of a seven-year-old girl. And in her slumber, Savitrie