Holidays with Eleven Kids - An Orphans First Christmas Wish
A new computer, clothing, a PlayStation, an iPhone 8 or better yet an iPhone X. Kids come up with Christmas wish lists every year, and they seem outlandish at times, and yet we give in. We are so caught up in consumerism...myself included.
With eleven kids our gifts were not that outlandish, but we still ran around asking for things and making lists. One of my sisters lived in an orphanage until she was fourteen. She had arrived from Korea that year and was in a new country with a new language, and new traditions. This was her first Christmas as part of our family but she was fourteen, not a newborn or a small child. Kids pick up quickly and so did she as she heard us, her new siblings, talking about what we wanted she voiced her opinion, "I would like a church hymn book in Korean."
We, the other children, made faces and looked at her as if she was crazy, "You know you can ask for more, why would you want that?"
We had never lived in an orphanage, had to learn another language or had the traumas of her past. We didn't get it and didn't think another thing of it until Christmas morning. My mother did however and contacted Mormon Missionaries in Korea. Everything was organized.
Christmas morning arrived, and the hymn book was wrapped beautifully and tucked under the tree unbeknownst to us.
My sister was wearing a pink bathrobe that Christmas morning. She was kneeling in front of the bookcase next to the tree in shock at the magnitude of packages wrapped up and nestled under the tree. It was her turn, and she was handed a small wrapped gift. She opened it. The moment she saw the Korean letters on the cover of the Hymn book she quietly started rocking back and forth holding the book to her chest as tears flowed down her cheeks. We sat and stared in amazement and then we too were crying. My Mom had to run to get tissues for all of us, and we had a small break from our opening of gifts to calm down.
As the years have passed, I have forgotten many of these stories, and now with teens of my own, I am remembering. Read your teens a Christmas story this year. Remind them how lucky they are. My sisters gave me gifts beyond anything you can imagine. It was an honor to be part of this as a child; to watch them and learn with them.
–Allison Ochs, Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife