One of the most memorable gifts I ever received was from my daughter, Mona, when she was 5 years old. We had a practice of giving the kids money for Christmas and instructing them to buy gifts for everybody. We never told them what to buy nor did we even offer suggestions. We let them buy what they deemed appropriate. As a result we got some interesting presents from them at Christmas. My dad got a battery-operated jumping frog from my son, Brad, one year. He was three. (My son, not my dad.)
My mom got a Wonder Woman coloring book from Mona that year. And I got a paperback. Mona knew I loved to read so she bought me a romance novel. This was not my favorite reading, but I could see why she was attracted to it. It had beautiful cover art depicting a long-haired Fabio-like bare-chested hero with a sword and a beautiful fair-skinned fearful woman wrapped around his leg and a fire-breathing dragon in the background.
“Why did you buy me this one, honey?” I asked.
“Because it’s ‘xactly the kind you like,” she said seriously. “It has no pictures in it.”
“Oh! Let me check it out.” I fanned through the pages and then pronounced, “You’re absolutely right! No pictures! This is my kind of book!”
At that innocent age, everything in Mona’s world was black or white. She thought people were either good or bad, food was either yummy or yucky and books came in two types: with pictures and without.
Now she’s grown and has learned about insidious things in our world like unprincipled people, helplessness, uncertainty and degrees of difficulty. She’s in my thoughts and prayers a lot now. She’s fighting a battle against colon cancer, and if I could have anything in the world for Christmas this year, it would be a clean bill of health and a bright future for Mona. I love her and to me she is still my innocent little girl with a simplified black and white view of the way things are and the way things ought to be.