Dec 102012

In this story, fourth in The Creative Creation series, we are thinking about Mary.  She was pregnant with the son of God, but unmarried and poor. She was awaiting a gift like no other gift and I am sure there were times when she looked for something gold, yet could not see it. She gave thanks anyway, knowing God would keep his promise.

Mary and Joseph both humbled themselves, put their own desires aside and obeyed God. There were certain things they had to do and certain places they had to go, as they waited for the arrival of something gold! (Luke 1-4 and Matthew 1-4)

Going for the Gold

Hope, Tommy’s brand new baby sister, was sleeping peacefully in her bassinet when Tommy woke up. She had taken her sweet time, but had finally arrived! Tommy had spent the weekend at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm while Mommy and Daddy got the baby and Grandpa had carefully answered Tommy’s questions, especially the one about where babies really came from.

Tommy had learned in just a few days on the farm that everyone, including Tommy, played a role in God’s creation and how the birth of little people and little animals was impacted by big people and their actions. He had decided to be the best he could be and create good things for the people around him. He knew this would not be easy, but Grandpa had taught him to always ask God for guidance.

Tommy had just started kindergarten too! At first, school had been very a frightening place for Tommy. He missed his mommy and baby sister terribly. Plus, there were lots of new faces and Tommy was already learning that everybody didn’t have a Mommy and Daddy at home to teach them to be nice!

He was worried about Hope, who slept constantly in her pink polka dotted room…when she wasn’t crying or hungry or dirty. But, after a week or two, because he had lots of new friends and had learned so much, Tommy decided school would be a good thing.

Mommy had assured him she could take care of Hope on her own during the day. That was her job. Going to school was his job, but he could help her when he got home in the afternoon.

Tommy had tried to convince his parents he was responsible enough to take care of a goldfish, but wasn’t sure he had succeeded.With a brand new baby, new school and new friends, Tommy had almost forgotten about his birthday, but he had not forgotten about the goldfish he wanted so badly and had hinted for all summer. He had not found the fish tank Dad had so carefully hidden in the laundry room and with all the baby stuff going on, he really didn’t think he would get one. Mom said fish tanks were a lot of work and she was certainly busy these days.

Either way, today was the day. It was Tommy’s sixth birthday and soon, he would know if he was goldfish worthy. He shuffled into the bathroom to brush his teeth, then put on some jeans and a sweatshirt.

“If I get dressed on my own, they will know I am big enough,” he thought. Then he made his bed without being told, a routine he had started a few weeks ago to prove himself responsible enough for a few small fish.

Tommy was glad his birthday was on a Saturday this year. He wondered if it would always be on a Saturday, now that he was in school Monday through Friday. After he finished proving himself goldfish worthy, he ran down the stairs to find Mommy and Daddy sitting at the kitchen table talking quietly over their coffee.

Mommy was skinny again and feeling much better, but she did look kind of tired these days. Daddy looked tired too and his face was scruffy with whiskers this morning.

“Good morning, Tommy,” his mom said as soon as she realized he was in the room. Dad looked up with a funny look on his face after hushing in mid sentence.

“Hi Birthday Boy!” Daddy looked so guilty when he said it. He was wondering if Tommy had heard their conversation.

“Morning,” Tommy said, trying to hide his excitement about the birthday. “I’m six years old today,” he finished while pouring some cereal in a bowl. He topped it off with milk from the fridge and sat in his usual place at the table like he turned six every day of his life.

“Tommy,” his mom began. “I can make you some pancakes if you like.”

“That’s ok,” he replied. “I’ll just have cereal. He had eaten cereal almost every morning since Hope had arrived, but he didn’t mind. Mommy would not buy the sugary kind of cereal, but his was tasty enough without it. Dad cut up a banana and plopped the slices in Tommy’s bowl.

“There you go,” he said. “It’s your new favorite breakfast, right?” Dad asked with a wink. He knew mommy had been so busy with the baby that all their meals were somewhat “simplified” these days. He certainly didn’t mind “simplified” and cooked dinner himself from time to time to help mommy out, though he wasn’t all that good at cooking. He was very good at slicing bananas though and Tommy loved them in his cereal, so he sat with his mouth full and winked back at his dad.

“Whaaaaaah,” came Hope’s usual morning call for attention.

“Whaaaaaaaaaaaaah.” Tommy rolled his eyes and finished his mouth full of cereal.“You want me to go get her?” he asked.“No, Tommy,” Mom responded. “I’ll get her while you finish your breakfast.”This was their conversation almost every morning. She knew Tommy loved his little sister and wanted to help. She also knew he was trying to be goldfish worthy, but she wasn’t going to let him practice being responsible on the baby.While they worked things out, Dad got up, walked up the stairs and a few minutes later, returned with a grinning, pink faced baby girl in his arms.“She just wanted a clean diaper and a little breakfast of her own,” he said all boo boo faced to the baby.

“That’s all Daddy’s baby girl needed…just a little kiss…” He kissed her cheek. “And a little hug…” He squeezed her just a little. “And a little…”

“Whaaaaaaaaah,” Hope wailed! What she wanted was her mamma!

Mommy soon had her quieted down and snuggled up with a blanket and a bottle. Tommy knew before too long, she would burp like a grownup and go right back to sleep.

“Babies,” he thought. “They’re kind of nasty and what a boring life!” He wasn’t too thrilled about Hope stealing his birthday morning with Mommy and Daddy, but he had gotten used to sharing these days. He also knew he could pout about it, or just decide not to and have a good day, baby or no baby. Since he had learned he was their favorite Tommy, he could tolerate this whole baby thing a lot better.

He had also learned, from Grandpa, that he needed to be kind to Hope if he wanted to be considered goldfish worthy and, more importantly, if he wanted her to grow up to be strong and happy.

Before they knew it, the morning had slipped away and noon was fast approaching. Hope had  been awake again, only long enough for a bottle and some more big, sloppy kisses from Daddy.

“She’s going to ruin my birthday,” Tommy was tempted to say, then thought better of it. “Will she be awake when my friends come over?” He asked.

“I’m not sure, Tommy,” Daddy replied. “If she is, your friends will love her.” He knew what was bothering Tommy, and he really hoped Tommy could have his small party without much fuss from Hope, but there was no promising that.

Mommy had decorated their small kitchen table with colorful napkins a few balloons and a couple of cards with her drawings, but no noise makers this year.

“If you want a nice party with a happy, sleeping Hope upstairs, we’ll want to skip the noise makers this year,” she had said.

Tommy was quite alright with that decision. He even helped her decorate, then waited for his friends to show up. There would be a small group: Trevor, Shannon, Isabella, Shannon’s older sister and Brett. Tommy had known Trevor since he was just a little kid, but Shannon, Isabella and Brett were all new friends from school.

After what seemed like hours, the doorbell rang and in walked Trevor carrying a big blue package. Soon the rest of the small party was gathered around the table enjoying a game of Toss Up, since Tommy had decided he was too old for Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Tommy’s Dad was the scorekeeper. It was a new game to the children, but somehow Daddy never got enough little green cubes to win. First, Trevor, then Shannon, then Tommy took first place with Brett coming in second.

It was a lot of fun, but Tommy was constantly glancing at the coffee table where Trevor’s blue package, Shannon and Isabella’s yellow package and Brett’s orange package where piled.

There was a large green package there too and Tommy was anxious about finding out what was inside. He couldn’t imagine goldfish being wrapped inside a green package, but who knew? His parents could be pretty creative with their surprises, so he had not given up hope.

Speaking of Hope, as soon as their last game was over, she wailed from her little pink polka dotted room, letting Mommy and the whole neighborhood know her tummy was growling again.

“Good grief,” Tommy said.

“It’s ok,” Mom replied. “I’ll get her a bottle. I bet your friends would love to meet her anyway.”

“Oh, please, can we hold her,” asked Shannon and Isabella, but Trevor and Brett decided to keep a safe distance. When Mom brought her little bundle of pink joy into the room, however, all the children crowded around to get a good look.

“Oh, she’s so cute!” They all agreed and soon, Tommy realized he couldn’t compete for attention when it came to pink baby girls and joined them in their loud admiration of her tiny fingers, toes and nose. Just like Mommy had said, Hope had her bottle and before too long, drifted back to sleep.

“That’s pretty much all she does,” Tommy explained to his friends.

“Well, she stays awake a little more than you think and she’s beginning to play with her toes a little. She’ll be all over the place before you know it,” Daddy said, “just like you, Tommy.”

After Hope had gone back up stairs, the children gathered around the coffee table and sang a softer than normal and somewhat strange sounding Happy Birthday. Then Tommy opened his packages one by one, saving the green package for last. Trevor got him a small white castle, Shannon and Isabella got him some plastic plants and Brett got him some shells and a rock.

“Thank you,” Tommy said, trying to sound polite, but not really feeling too excited about his gifts. Then, he opened the big green package from Mommy and Daddy.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Tommy jumped up and down with excitement as he tore into the box that held the small aquarium. There were pictures of goldfish right on the box! Daddy helped him pull the aquarium out of the box and placed it on the coffee table beside the castle, the rocks and the plants.

“See, Tommy,” Daddy said. “They go inside!”

“Oh,” Tommy replied. “Just like the ones in the store! But Daddy, where are the fish?”

Tommy’s dad held back a chuckle and explained they had to fill the tank with fresh water, let it stand for a couple of days so the chlorine could evaporate and then go get the fish.

Tommy felt a little disappointed, but he knew he could wait a couple more days. His mom brought out a bag of blue gravel and the five children, under Daddy’s supervision, set the tank up on a stand in Tommy’s room. Then, they filled it with water from the tap, turned on the air filters and watched tiny bubbles make the plants dance around in the fresh, clean water.

“It’s beautiful,” said Isabella. “I wish we had one at home.”

“If you can learn to be responsible,” Tommy said, so seriously it made Daddy smile, “maybe you can have one too. I’ll teach you,” he assured his friend. Shannon giggled a little, but Isabella agreed wholeheartedly that she would like to become goldfish worthy, like Tommy!

The afternoon drifted away and evening began to arrive. It was time for Tommy’s friends to go home. Sadly, he said goodbye to each one and immediately ran upstairs to test the water in the aquarium one more time.

“Tommy,” his dad said. “You only need to do that once a day.”

“Oh,” Tommy replied. “It’s ok, I don’t mind.”

Dad decided to let it go for a day or two, knowing Tommy would eventually calm down and test it only once a day, if that often.

That night the family of four gathered for a “simplified” dinner, then Tommy and Dad did the dishes while Hope got a bath. Before long, they were snuggled in bed, all looking forward to a good night’s rest…if Hope would allow it.

To their amazement, she did allow it. Mommy awoke at seven the next morning with a start, wondering what was wrong. She ran into Hope’s room to find her sleeping peacefully.

“Wow,” Mommy said, looking like she might cry. “Maybe we’ll get more sleep now!”

“I tested the water, Dad,” Tommy said in his grownup voice. “I think it’s ready for some goldfish!”

“It’s probably not quite ready,” Daddy replied, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes, “but I’ll take a look after the breakfast dishes are clean. If the test results are good, we’ll go get some fish this afternoon. If not, I will take you to get them tomorrow after work.”

“Ok,” Tommy said. “I’m pretty sure it’s ready!” He had paid very close attention when his dad taught him how to test the water with little strips and was, in his mind, quite the expert already. Soon, his dad tested the water himself and to his own surprise, Tommy was right.

“You’re right!” Dad exclaimed to Tommy. “You are quite the expert!”

That afternoon, Dad and Tommy stood in the pet store gazing at what seemed like thousands of little fish who were all begging to go home with them. There were little blue fish, yellow fish, black fish, silver fish with red spots and red fish with silver streaks. There were some long slimy looking fish that Tommy didn’t care too much for and even some tiny sharks.

“Sharks,” Tommy said with excitement. “Do they bite?” The pet store owner explained all about freshwater sharks and eels and saltwater fish and brackish water fish to Tommy while Dad listened patiently.

“Where are the goldfish?” Tommy finally asked. The owner took them to the end of a long wall, filled with fish tanks and pointed to five different tanks, all containing different types of goldfish. There were little chubby goldfish with puffy cheeks and long, skinnier goldfish with fancy fins. There were white fish with gold and black spots and gold fish with black and white spots.

“I didn’t know there were so many kinds of goldfish!” Tommy’s dad said while they stood staring into the tanks like they were in some sort of fishy trance.

“Oh, you bet,” said the owner. “We only have a few varieties today. Wait until tomorrow and we will have many more to choose from.”

“That’s ok,” Daddy said. “It’s hard enough to choose as it is.” Daddy and the store owner talked a little about the new tank and their experience, or lack of, taking care of fish. Then, the pet store owner took Daddy across the aisle to a smaller group of tanks that held hundreds of little fish.

Some were colorful and pretty, but some were plain, silvery and had no gold on them at all! Tommy was watching with one eye, while staring at the chubby goldfish with beautiful fins with the other eye.

“Hey, Dad,” he finally said. “I think I like these the best. They have lots of gold on them and they are puffy!”

They weren’t gold at all, and they were not nearly as exciting to look at as the chubby goldfish Tommy had chosen. He really wanted the goldfish, and he really wanted the fancy ones. Trever didn’t have fancy goldfish! His were just plain, old goldfish.

“Tommy, I have an idea,” Dad began. “Since our tank is so new, let’s start with a couple of these guppies.” He gave the store owner the go ahead and he fetched a small net, a plastic bag and a wire tie for the bag. Soon, there were two plain, old silvery looking fish, one with a great big belly, swimming around in the bag.

“But, Dad,” Tommy began to complain a little. “I thought we were getting the gold, goldfish! I want the gold ones!”

“Tommy,” Dad began. “I know you do, but we should start with these. They are very healthy and can adapt to the water more easily. I bet by Christmas time, we’ll have something gold in the tank.”

Tommy was so disappointed he wanted to cry. First he’d had to share his birthday with the screamy Hope, now he wasn’t getting the fancy, gold goldfish. He refused to cry, though, and choked by his tears as hard as he could.

“Ok,” he finally said, looking at his feet. “But only if you think we can get some gold, goldfish by Christmas.

“Tommy,  I’m certain sure you will have something wonderful in your fish tank by Christmas,” Dad said with a wink in the store owner’s direction.

“Of course,” said the owner, “but only if you take really good care of these two. Do the best you can to keep their water clean and test it every day for a while. Deal?”

“Deal,” said Tommy, feeling a little better about the plain, old silvery fat fish in the bag. “They’re so ugly,” he thought, “I guess we should give them a home. Nobody else will want them.”

“Well, Tommy,” said the store owner, beginning to share a little information Daddy was not going to share. “Lots of times, when people start a brand new tank, the fish don’t make it. Your dad is making a good choice, because if these little fish don’t make it, you have not lost much money.”

“They don’t make it? What happens to them then?” Tommy asked as his forehead wrinkled with concern.

“The water has to be just right in order for the fish to survive, but I know you are going to take good care of these, so let’s not worry too much. I’ll help you keep an eye on them,” Daddy explained. “Let’s pay for our new fish and get them home. I think they are getting tired of that little bag already.” He paid the store owner and they left with their little bag of plain old guppies.

“Guppies!” Mommy exclaimed when they arrived. “I thought you were going for goldfish!” Daddy gave her one of those sideways looks.

“We’re going to start with these, because they will help get the water chemicals straightened out. If everything goes well, we’ll get some prettier fish for the tank. Tommy was kind of disappointed, because he wanted the gold, but according to the pet store owner, this is a better choice for us.”

“Oh,” Mommy said. “These are wonderful little fish!”

“It’s ok, Mom,” Tommy said in his grownup voice. “Wait until Christmas, and we’ll have some gold in the tank, right Dad?” The three fish amateurs went upstairs to Tommy’s room to add the guppies to the tank.

“Yes, Tommy, that is right.” Dad said as he placed the little bag in the top of the tank and let it float around. “If you’ll forget about the gold and take good care of these little silver guys, by Christmas morning, you’re sure to have something wonderful.”

“Thank you, Daddy,” Tommy finally said, trusting his dad’s promise for something wonderful and feeling much better about his decision. It was kind of nice, after all, to have something wonderful to look forward to!  (To be continued.)

Denise Mistich

Denise is an author as well as spiritual mentor to many people. She writes from her heart to help little ones find their way in life.