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Mia shares a secret with her mother

Editor’s note: This is the sixth chapter of a 12-part continuing, fictional holiday tale, “The Golden Ornament” that is running daily through Christmas. Parents are encouraged to read it aloud to their children.

Mia’s heart was almost bursting with joy. Biscuit’s owner turned out to be a little boy named Joey, and she had never seen anyone as happy as him when he’d been reunited with his furry best friend.

After being able to help the woman at the store and now bringing Biscuit back to Joey, she could hardly wait to see what the ornament had in store for her next.

All day long, she’d opened and closed the ornament, waiting for something to happen, but it remained empty. She’d even put a blank piece of paper inside, in the hopes that writing would appear, but nothing.

“Honey, do you want to head out with me for some last-minute shopping?” Mia’s mom asked, popping her head into Mia’s room.

“Sure!” Mia loved Christmas shopping. There was something so special and magical about shopping with Christmas carols playing and Christmas decorations adorning every store. She wasn’t sure why, but she put the golden ornament into her bag to bring with her. On the drive to the mall, she couldn’t help taking it out to peek inside.

“You haven’t told me how your good deed went,” Mia’s mom said. “Grandma told me Brandon was helping you, but we weren’t sure what exactly you were doing.”

Mia put the still-empty ornament back in her bag. She’d been avoiding telling her mom about the strange papers and poems, but there was no way she could keep the secret any longer so she spilled everything, from the way the ornament seemed to flicker to get her attention, to the words appearing out of nowhere, to the mysterious way she kept being in the right place at the right time. By the time she was finished, they’d parked at the mall.

Her mom was quiet for a second, then gave her a smile. “Sweet girl, I’m so glad you’re having such a great first experience with this. Your imagination never ceases to amaze me.”

“Imagination?” Mia shook her head and thrust the ornament at her mom. “I’m not imagining it; Brandon saw it, too! Just look, Mom. Look really closely at it.”

Though she was clearly humoring her, Mia’s mom took the ornament and held it up in front of her face. She frowned, peering closer.

“How strange,” she murmured, holding it up to the light. “I could almost swear I see … “

“Snowflakes!” Mia finished. “I told you, Mom. This ornament is special.”

“It certainly seems to be.” Her mom smiled. “I’m sure there’s some kind of explanation.”

Of course there was, but Mia certainly hadn’t found it yet. She twisted the top off and glanced inside, but it was still empty. It wasn’t until hours later when she was back home that the piece of paper she’d been looking for was finally there when she opened the ornament.

Butterflies fluttered excitedly in her stomach as she unfolded the paper.

As before, an address was written in elegant script, followed by another rhyme:

Helping can be dirty work and also make you ache; But a sharp eye can bring a fulfilled heart and save everything at stake.

Mia recognized the address as Cameron’s Animal Sanctuary. She was excited her next task would take her there; it was beautiful during the holidays with all the decorations they put out. They even had reindeer that guests could take pictures with and feed.

Tomorrow was Sunday, which meant they were closed so no one would be there except Mr. and Mrs. Cameron. Mia’s mom said she’d be happy to drive her; the Camerons were getting up in years, and it made her feel better knowing they had help.

As soon as she got the OK from her mom, she hurried to call Brandon.

“Get some good sleep tonight,” she said as soon as he answered.

“Why?”

“Tomorrow morning, we’re going to the Camerons’ farm. My mom will drop us off and pick us up whenever we call.” She read him the clue, and he let out a playful groan.

“Dirty work and aches … gee, it sounds like fun,” he said with a laugh. “But I guess it’s off to the animals we go.”

“To the animals we go,” Mia repeated happily.

She hung up the phone and climbed into bed. With a smile on her face, she closed her eyes and soon fell fast asleep, despite her excitement. The ornament on her bedside table sparkled once, then faded to a darkened glow, as if it too were sleeping.

Read the next chapter of “The Golden Ornament” in tomorrow’s newspaper.

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