by Michelle Lynn Senters
[ART: Before story begins, there is an illustration of someone pulling Rosa’s name off of a donation/charity Christmas tree. Rosa’s tag may include her age and family needs, etc. Rest of story takes place in Rosa and Mamá’s home.]
“Will Santa come, Mamá?”
Rosa stared through the frost-covered window. The night was heavy with snow and she could see the neighbor’s lights, peeking beneath their winter blanket. Rosa wondered if Santa visited families without Christmas trees and lights.
Mamá smoothed Rosa’s hair.
“He will come,” she assured. “But first, we must bake cookies for Santa.” Mamá checked the clock. “We have just enough time to make Biscochitos before bed.”
Rosa’s heart beat with excitement as she rushed into the kitchen. They had not made Biscochitos since last Christmas. Rosa found the sugar and butter while Mamá searched for the flour. Rosa could almost see Santa biting into the crispy cinnamon cookie.
Mamá closed the cupboard door and sighed. “Lo siento, Rosita. We have no flour.”
Tears welled in Rosa’s eyes.
“You could make tortillas instead,” Mamá offered.
“Santa doesn’t want tortillas. He wants cookies.”
Mamá lifted Rosa’s chin and gave it a playful tug. “But Rosita, Abuelita taught you how to make the best cinnamon tortillas. I wish I knew the recipe.”
Rosa smiled at the thought of her Abuelita and quickly gathered the ingredients. She spread butter on the tortillas and mixed the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl.
“Mamá, shut your eyes,” Rosa teased. “I have to add the secret ingredients.”
Mamá covered her eyes while Rosa added more spices to the mixture.
“You can open your eyes now.” Rosa tried not to giggle.
Together, they sprinkled the sugar and spice over the buttered tortillas. Rosa cut them into strips and soon, they were in the oven.
Rosa wrote her Christmas wish while they baked.
[ART: The following letter is embedded in the illustration and can include age-appropriate misspellings.]
I hope you like the spicy cinnamon tortillas.
Please bring me a doll for Christmas.
Please bring Mamá joy and flour for Christmas.
Rosa checked the tortillas. She opened the oven door and the smell of burnt sugar filled the kitchen.
“Mamá, come quick!”
Mamá looked over the darkened tortillas. “Look, Rosita,” she said. “There are two good pieces, just enough for Santa.”
Rosa studied the golden tortillas strips and dropped them on a plate.
She looked at the floor and tried to speak, but the words wouldn’t come. Rosa walked to the window and drew a picture in the frost.
Mamá pulled her daughter close. For a long time they stood quiet, staring into the cold night.
“I was just thinking about how rich we are,” said Mamá.
“Rich?” asked Rosa. She thought about the empty cupboards. She thought about the burnt tortillas and the cold house.
“We are rich with love, Rosita,” said Mamá. “We have everything because we have each other.”
Mamá wrapped her arms around Rosa and together they drew pictures in the frost.
Rosa couldn’t sleep that night. She wasn’t waiting for the sound of Santa’s sleigh bells or the prancing of hooves on the roof. She was thinking about what Mamá said, “We are rich with love.”
Rosa slipped out of bed and found her paper and crayons. After she finished writing, she climbed back into bed and fell asleep in the warmth of her Mamá’s words.
[ART: Rosa is asleep with her hand on the note.]
Rosa woke early Christmas morning. Mamá was in the kitchen making sweet cinnamon rice for breakfast.
“Feliz Navidad, Rosita,” said Mamá. “Did Santa come?”
Rosa ran to the table and squealed with delight.
[ART: Rosa holds up the empty plate and a doll. The doll is a handmade, rag doll with braided hair and a Mexican embroidered dress. The doll looks like Rosa and is held by her the rest of the story.]
Rosa took Mamá by the hand and they danced and twirled.
Rosa looked at her doll and held it close. “She’s just what I wanted. But, I didn’t ask Santa for a doll. I asked for joy and flour for you.”
Mamá laughed. “You are my joy, Rosita. I don’t need presents.”
“Oh! I almost forgot,” said Rosa. She hurried to her bedroom and returned with a piece of paper. “It’s your Christmas present.”
[ART: Rosa’s recipe is embedded within the illustration and can include age-appropriate misspellings.]
Spread butter on tortillas.
Mix sugar and spices. Sprinkle spicy sugar on tortillas. Cut tortillas and put on cookie sheet. Bake in oven until crispy. Don’t burn!
I love you!
P.S. We are rich with love.
“Oh, Rosita! It’s just what I wanted!” said Mamá.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.
“Who would visit us on Christmas morning? And in this weather?” asked Mamá. They opened the door to see people holding boxes and gifts.
[ART: The carolers are from a church or charity organization and vary in sex, age, and race. The boxes contain gifts for Rosa and various foods, including prominently placed bag of flour.]
“Merry Christmas,” said a man and the people began to sing.
“Joy to the world…”
[ART: words to song embedded in illustration. For last illustration, no text. Rosa and Mamá welcome the group inside the house where there is singing, celebration, and the making of new friends.]
Michelle Lynn Senters
1110 Dancing Horse Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80919