I drove into town, and looked around at all the familiar sights. As much as I missed my parents and certain things about home, I didn't miss it all as much as I thought I would. I had only lived there for a little bit, but everything about Toronto was good for me. It was everything I didn't know I wanted.

I pulled up behind the small building, only two other cars in the lot. I went into the building and went straight to work.

"Merry Christmas Finley Marie." Laila said, noticing my presence. 

"Merry Christmas." I smiled at her.

"I didn't think you'd come this year, I heard you moved." 

"I did move, but I would never miss this."

It was the same every year. Same preparation. Same service. Same tear down. This shelter was specifically for battered women and youth. The building housed less than twenty, and I had never seen it more than half full. But the people here were usually repeats. 

I had first come here when I was five. I had thrown a huge fit Christmas morning because I didn't get the right Barbie. My mom, angry as I've ever seen her dropped me off at the back door, and told me she would be back when I changed my attitude. 

That was the day I met Karmina. 

Her and her mom were living there after getting away from her dad. The older we got, the more I found out about what he had done to them. Every year I seemed to end up back at the shelter. I couldn't sit at home surrounded by all my excess, while I knew there were families down there in need. 

Laila would cook the turkey. Pat and Jerry made just about everything else, and I worked on setting up the dining area. I always brought presents for the kids and adults. It was the least I could do when I was bless with so much. 

When it was finally time for them to eat, the steady stream of women and children filled the tiny room.

It was the most people I had ever seen in there before.

A lump formed in my throat, but I pushed it back down. They didn't need tears. They needed joy. Normalcy. They were brave, and they deserved to have a great Christmas. 

The lump grew bigger as I saw a little four year old boy dart across the room, straight at me.

"Christopher!" I smiled, lifting him up as he got over to me.

"Miss Finny!" He wrapped his arms around my neck.

"Look at how big you've gotten!" I hugged him tightly.

"I'm four now!" He told me, holding up four fingers.

"Oh my goodness." 

His mom, Mary, sat in the back, at the table she had been at the last three years. 

A healing black eye sat on the left side of her face, and a forced smile.

I carried Christopher over, and sat him on the chair next to Mary. She had stood up, and leaned over to give me a hug.

"Merry Christmas Finley." Mary smiled weakly.

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