DEAR ABBY: A few years ago, you printed a poem about children with special needs having been sent by God to special parents who can nurture and care for them.
Our neighbors -- dear friends of ours -- have a new baby who has challenges. Although there are days that bring with them frustrations, this loving couple is doing a wonderful job of parenting their beautiful little girl.
With the holidays approaching, would you print that poem again? I would like to give a copy to my neighbors. -- IN AWE IN MARYLAND
DEAR IN AWE: The poem you're referring to is titled, "Heaven's Very Special Child," and it's certainly worth sharing again. The author, Edna Massimilla, wrote it after her daughter -- a child with Down syndrome -- was born.
I have always found its message to be very moving and, when I spoke to Edna, she told me it was written to emphasize that every creation is for a purpose. She's in her 90s now and still writing poems and songs -- especially for children with disabilities. Read on:
HEAVEN'S VERY SPECIAL CHILD
A meeting was held quite far from Earth.
It was time again for another birth.
Said the Angels to the Lord above --
"This special child will need much love.
"Her progress may be very slow,
"Accomplishment she may not show.
"And she'll require extra care
"From the folks she meets down there.
"She may not run or laugh or play,
"Her thoughts may seem quite far away.
"So many times she will be labeled
"'different,' 'helpless' and disabled.
"So, let's be careful where she's sent.
"We want her life to be content.
"Please, Lord, find the parents who
"Will do a special job for you.
"They will not realize right away
"The leading role they are asked to play.
"But with this child sent from above
"Comes stronger faith, and richer love.
"And soon they'll know the privilege given
"In caring for their gift from heaven.
"Their precious charge, so meek and mild
"Is heaven's very special child."
DEAR ABBY: Please help correct a holiday misnomer that seems to be growing more entrenched each year. The reindeer in Clement Moore's "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" is DONDER, not Donner! The name continues to be misspoken in TV commercials, so I'm asking your help. Suggestion: Tell your readers to find a copy and read it to their kids or grandkids. -- DONDER FAN IN VALLEY SPRINGS, CALIF.
DEAR DONDER FAN: That's an excellent suggestion. I'm in favor of any opportunity parents and grandparents can create to read to children. Not only is it an enjoyable bonding experience, it gives children an incentive to learn to read for themselves.
P.S. In case any of you don't remember the names of the rest of Santa's reindeer, they are: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, DONDER and Blitzen. (Rudolph was added later.)
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)