After a few moments, Eric appeared, grinning. As he entered the day room, Maria put her arms across Conchitaâ€™s chest and held her tightly; she wanted to protect Conchita; Maria wasnâ€™t sure what to expect.
She hoped for Conchitaâ€™s sake her Christmas would be a memorable one for the right reasons.
â€œItâ€™s Chita Chita Bang Bang and Santa Maria,â€ he said. â€œHo ho ho.â€ He arched his shoulders back and rubbed his belly.
Conchita shrugged Maria off. â€œDa-ad. Youâ€™re so silly.â€ Conchita handed him his present. â€œHere we got you something. Go ahead open it.â€
Eric looked the package over, started smelling it, and then tasted the wrapper.
â€œDad, youâ€™re supposed to open it,â€ Conchita said.
â€œOh,â€ he said. â€œLike this.â€ He tore into the package, opened the box then held up his gift. â€œItâ€™s a sweater! Thanks Chita.â€ He looked up at Maria.
â€œMerry Christmas,â€ Maria said.
â€œAnd a Happy New Year.â€ He set his sweater on a table covered with an unfinished puzzle then held out his arms. Maria haltingly approached. Eric embraced her and Conchita wiggled in between like she always did. Eric quickly let go. â€œYou havenâ€™t seen any elves around here have you?â€
â€œNo,â€ Conchita responded.
â€œWell, one of Santaâ€™s helpers brought me something last night, and itâ€™s in my room. Letâ€™s see if we can find it.â€ Eric and Conchita raced off . . . Maria lingered behind. Nurse Molly approached.
â€œHe seems to be doing a little bit better today,â€ Molly said.
â€œYes. He does,â€ Maria said. There was a squeal from down the hall. It was Conchita. She ran back to Maria. Eric sauntered up behind Conchita.
â€œHey, Mom. Look what Dad got me.â€ Conchita held up a blue, wooden box. Conchita turned to Eric. â€œWhat did you say it was Dad?â€
â€œItâ€™s a God Box,â€ he said. â€œAny time youâ€™re having a problem, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in the box. Give it a little while, open the box, and read your note. Then, youâ€™ll see how God has helped you with your problem.â€