A Christmas away from home

A young girl named Maria and her mother are migrant workers in the United States. Maria hates being a migrant worker because she can’t be with all her loved ones during Christmas.
This year in the town where they live, there is a contest for the best Christmas card. Maria wanted to enter because she has lots of ideas for cards. Her mother was not sure that they could afford it, but Maria convinced her by showing her how much she has been saving. The contest deadline was the next day and Maria promised to stay up all night working on it if necessary so that they could get it done in time.
They made two beautiful cards with pictures of roses on them—one for St Mary and one for Our Lady of Guadalupe (the patron saint of Mexico).
The next morning, they wrapped them carefully and took them to the post office just before the deadline. When they got home late that afternoon, there was a package from Madrid waiting for them.
It contains an old book written in Spanish by a nun called Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz about why God made roses so beautiful. When Maria looked inside the book, there is a message there from her father telling her how much he loves her and that he wishes he could be with them at Christmas this year instead of sending presents like last year.
Maria was so happy when she read the letter from her dad. Even though he was far away, he has still found a way to send her a special Christmas present. She hugged her mom and they both cried tears of happiness.
It was finally Christmas Eve, so Maria was making tamales to put on her tree like she always did for Christmas Eve dinner like her dad had taught her. She put on the CD of Mariachi music that he sent them last year. He would never be there to see it, but she knew that he would be happy that she was continuing the tradition.
When they were done making tamales, they went out to visit all of their friends like they always did on Christmas Eve.
When they came back home, they decorated the Christmas tree all by themselves with ornaments that her dad had sent them over the years. And they hung up his letter on the tree too so that they could read it every day.
When they finally finished, Maria looked at the tree and saw a picture from one of their old calendars from when she was little—a picture of her dad holding a little girl in his arms. She smiled as she remembered how much he loved her and thanked God for keeping him safe even if he couldn't be there in person this year.
Maria and her mom were so happy with their Christmas card for the contest, and they had high hopes. On Christmas morning, Maria was excited to find that she had won the contest. The prize was $100 that she would spend on presents for her mom and the rest of their family in Mexico.
For the first time, Maria felt that she could call this place home and she and her family could start building new traditions and fond memories.
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