The Little Match Girl

On the phone with a very old friend the other day.  Remembering kids from grade school.

One girl…haunting.

Very sad…Very poor….said little.

I shared a country classroom with this girl for years and cannot remember her speaking.

Her clothes were always clean , but very frayed, old. Her hair always in a long ponytail.  Her teeth either missing or crooked.

For the most part, she was invisible.  The cruel kids never bothered her.  The ‘more affluent’ kids ignored her.  The teacher often overlooked her.

She was the Little Match girl.

Then, in fifth grade, something happened.

Georgia moved silently from desk to desk and left an envelope for each kid.

It was an invitation to a birthday party.

Whispers…Georgia! Birthday party!

This was not a community of ‘cruel girls’ or in ground pool families.  We ALL went to Georgia’s party.

Dropped off at her house. Knocked on Georgia’s door.  Remember the pictures of Appalachian families? Kids with straw hair, eyes a bit askew, missing teeth, hanging tight on Mom’s apron?

That was what I saw.

Mom and Dad, probably in their thirties, looked 70.

The plumbing looked like it was from a different century.

But know this.  The love that ran through that rundown shack matched or EXCEEDED the love in every other house in that village.

We played games. We ate the nicest cake imaginable. Presents were opened.

Mom and Dad scurried about the table making sure we were served promptly.

And they were never far from a delicate touch to their sweet, sweet Georgia.

Back at school. Kids crowding around Georgia’s desk.  Raving!

And Georgia….beaming.

Decades pass.

Facebook.

“Remember me?”

My God…of course! It was Georgia!

Happily married, kids, grandkids, comfortable retirement.

I could not, COULD NOT, be happier.

Wouldn’t trade that memory for a million.

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