Technically her name is Riley, and she is our middle Granddaughter. Our dreamy, sweet, heart-driven, lovely Riley who is six years old. And who has one of the kindest hearts I've ever been around. Although she is wearing a pink and white dress and is holding a puppy in this photo, that's not why she is Christmas.
She is Christmas because of this drawing. And many others like it. Espcially because of who she has been drawing them for.
But I think for me it is this drawing in specific that whispers Christmas into every particle of my being. May I tell you about this picture?
This picture is drawn for a wonderful man who is suffering from so many awful things it would take me an hour to tell his tale. He is the son of one of the most loving friends I have.
This picture was drawn at Riley's own initiative. When she saw an envelope on my desk and asked who it was for and I told her "Mike" she immediately ran for the colored pencils.
This picture was drawn with two legs because Mike has had one amputated and Riley says he wants to see himself the way "his heart wants him to be."
This picture was drawn with the two of them getting onto an airplane because Mike goes back and forth between bedridden and the ICU unit at the hospital and Riley says he wants to see himself going on a trip. With her. To Disneyland.
One morning several weeks ago Riley was here in my office actually drawing a picture to send to Mike when my friend called to tell me her husband had suffered a stroke. All this in addition to dealing with the sadness and medical horrors that encompass every single moment of their life.
Riley listened to my conversation and then looked up at me to ask "Grandma, who is Bob?"
I replied "sweetie, that is Mike's Dad and he is very, very sick now, too."
And Riley said to me "oh boy, Grandma, I have a lot of drawing to do here."
And went to get another piece of paper.
Did I say that this picture whispers Merry Christmas to my soul.
It doesn't. It shouts "Merry Christmas!" to every atom that makes me who I am. It makes my heart swell with carols and pride and love and certainty.
Certainty that because this little girl exists there is still hope and love and joy and possibility and kindness in a world that sometimes feels otherwise.
And Mike, I hope this dream of walking sturdily and confidently onto an airplane to take a trip to somewhere wonderful soothes your soul and eases your pain for just a moment.
And Riley? Sweet, sweet girl.