Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

I’m gonna cry.  I’m seriously gonna cry.  But this time not out of sadness.  I’m sooo happy.

So today I did my run and went to work, and the owner asked me how it went.  I told him that I met her, and she was really regretful, and I forgave her.  He patted me on the back and said “good girl”.  Then he paused.  “In India, family is very important.  We have big families.  Mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents…  sometimes all under one roof.  Many people are poor and don’t have much.  But they are rich.  You are rich.  You have your family, and now your birth mother and your half sisters, and your boyfriend -” I started to protest but he smirked.  “You just don’t know it yet.  You have a big family, like in India.  A big family is a blessing.  Don’t forget.  You lost much, yes, yes, very much, but you gained much too.”  He smiled.  “Business is good.  Better than last year.  My wife and I, we want to do something nice for our employees.”  He rummaged around his desk and handed me an envelope.  “Don’t open it until you get home.  Very important.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

I protested.  “Aren’t you a Hindu?”

“Yes,” he said, smiling.  “But you’re not.  And isn’t that respect?”

I had no response to that.  I just sniffed and impulsively hugged him.  He patted my back.  “Back to work, kiddo.  You have, how do you say it, doot dooting to do.”

I frowned.  “I didn’t get you anything.”

“You’re sixteen, Lily.  You don’t have much to give.  I own a convenience store.  I have a lot to give.  That hug was gift enough.  Now shoo.”

I did.  Oh my God.  How nice is he.  I won the job lottery.

After I got home, I opened the envelope.  It was a bonus.  A huge bonus.  Even Dave and Sabby were taken aback by how much it was, at least in comparison to my hourly wage.  I could afford to get driving lessons now and start paying my insurance!!!  He is soo nice!  I have to make him and his wife a thank you card!!!

When I got home, there was a tree on top of the car.  “Oh there you are,” Dave said.  “help us get this inside.”  Liz was there too, I guess her family doesn’t really make a big deal out of Christmas and Sabby thought she’d enjoy it.

So we got the tree inside and put it in its stand.  Sabby went to the attic and got out all the ornaments and tinsel, and we started decorating the tree.  When we were done, it was all lit up and soooo pretty!  Everyone had their own special ornament that they put up.  Sabby got a box and handed it to me.  I opened it, and there was an ornament!  My very own ornament!  With my name on it!  Lily!  She must have had it done recently, because it also said “Yuriko”.

OMG!!!  I put the ornament on the tree and everyone hugged me!  Even David!

I’m a Smith!  I’m actually a real Smith!!!

And Liz got an ornament too!  She was soooo happy!  Maybe she’s not a Smith, but she’s an honorary Smith!  Just like I’m an honorary Tang!

After that, Dave got a ladder and put up the Christmas lights.  He can be a bit clumsy so we all stood outside ready to catch him, but everything went fine.  After the sun went down, we turned the lights on, and it was soo pretty!  Christmas is so pretty!  With all the lights and songs and… and family!

Oh oh oh and Jack said he had a present for me too, but I would get it around Christmastime!  I wonder what it is!  He wouldn’t say.  He wouldn’t even give me a hint!  He did promise it would be big and I would really love it!  What could it be???

The owner was right!  I have such a big family now!  I have Dave, and Sabby, and Beth, and David, and Cat, and Liz, and her parents, and Emiko, and my new half sisters, and Jack, and Grace, and even the owner, and OMG how lucky am I?  I’m gonna cry!  I’m seriously gonna cry!!!

And I have you all too!!!  Allison and everyone else who reads this and follows my life and loves me!!!  Even with the roller coaster of the last couple of weeks, how lucky I am!!!

Love you all!!! ❤️

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