By: Terri Hill

December 1995

Dear Diary,

It was bitterly cold this morning, and of course, I had before school playground duty.  I bundled up and found a sunny spot with a good view of the playground and let my mind wander.  Mornings are nice.  The children are pretty much low key and sleepy-eyed as they meander from the cafeteria.  A blessing.  Especially this time of year, with Christmas break just a few days away.  Suddenly I heard someone calling my name.

"Teacher, Teacher".

I looked up to see little Joey Bates galloping across the playground towards me.  His towhead gleamed like a halo in the bright December sun, and his cheeks glowed a cheery red from the cold.  He screeched to a halt and stood grinning up at me.

"Look at my new coat" he said, twirling around to give me the panoramic view.  

"Nice.  It's the same color as your eyes."

Joey's bright blue eyes lit with pleasure.  He puffed out his chest and stood a little taller.

"My Grandma got it for me.  It costed two dollars at the thrift shop.  She gave it to me now, but it's for Christmas."  He patted his new coat proudly.  "And look at this.  It's got pockets.  Lots of pockets.  Pockets with zippers."  He zipped and unzipped a few pockets to make sure I got the point.  Then, glancing around, he leaned in towards me and whispered, "It's even got a secret pocket."  He opened the coat to show me the secret pocket tucked inside.

"Wow!  That is a nifty coat.  Lucky you."

Joey beamed.  "Well, I gotta go play now."  He dashed off to resume whatever activity he had interrupted to show me his new coat.  I watched the little boy in his new coat melt into the crowd of children at play, and marveled at the miracle of perception.  

Joey saw a new coat.  With zippers and secret pockets.  A gift from his Grandma.  An early Christmas present no less.  A special event.  A unanticipated gift.

I saw an old, threadbare, thrift store coat, the fabric faded and worn.  I noticed the frayed sleeves and collar.  I observed the big, shiny, blob of syrup decorating the front, a remnant from this morning's cafeteria breakfast of waffles and syrup.

I like Joey's take better.