Because I intend to publish the novel from which this excerpt comes, Symphony Christmas will not be placed in Backfile.
Neil is reading papers written by his sixth grade class.
Lauren Turner wrote:
Every year we go to my granmas house for christmas. she has a great big living room where we all put our presents. I get presents from my mom and dad but nobody else gives them to me. I mean I get presents, but my brother always gets twice as many and they are always neater than mine and i don’t think its fair ! ! ! !
Oscar Teixeira wrote:
My Dad gets me chemistry sets and sport shirts and ties and last year he got me a calculator. What I really want is a baseball mitt and a football.
Stephanie Hagstrom’s paper was well written, in beautiful handwriting, and decorated with candy canes in all four corners. She detailed what presents she got last year, told how happy she was to have Christmas with her parents, and told what she expected to get this year.
Rosa Alvarez’s paper was not so well written, although it showed great progress for her. It said:
This year I don’t think we will have much of a Christmas because my Daddy has lost his job and Mommy’s job at the bank doesn’t give us much money. My Oldest brother has gone back to Mexico, but Daddy said that what money we have will go to buy toys fo the little kids. That’s OK, I don’t mind.
Neil lay back on his couch and wiped his eyes.
He remembered fellow teacher Carmen’s voice the first day they had looked at his students’ folders. Carmen had told him about Rosa. Then she had passed him Stephanie’s folder, and had said, “This is Rosa’s competition. She will take all your time if you let yourself be seduced by success. Stephanie will sound smart because she had mastered English; Rosa will sound stupid because she has not.
“The Stephanies of this world always get more than their fair share.”
He thought about them for a long time. He loved both girls, not merely in a vague way as he did all his students, but intensely and personally because they had both come early to his attention and he knew them well. Stephanie knew her own worth; her parents had taught it to her early. But Rosa was one of the meek ones. She desperately needed for someone to hold her, and tell her she was good and pure and valuable. continued