It had been another difficult year on Rampart Downs. Since the rain in January the dams and bores had dried up – even the creek beds were reduced to just a few muddy puddles. Many of the cattle had been sold…or had died…because there was simply not enough money to keep buying their feed; there was only enough mulga for one third of the herd. Mum and Dad were often arguing, something they rarely did before. Sometimes Mum could be found wiping tears away, she’d try to hide it…but Annie could always tell. Even the fridge and pantry were looking bare for this time of year, not a special treat to be seen…
In early December Mum and Dad had sat Annie & Clancy down to have a ‘talk’…it was hard for Annie to hear that there would not be any presents or yummy treats that Christmas. They didn’t even think Santa would make it to Rampart Downs that year.
Every day Annie tried so hard to not feel sad when she saw the Christmas tree with no presents underneath. Every time she opened the cupboard and would look at the top shelf where Mum usually puts the special treats for Christmas (safely out of Clancy’s reach) …but it was empty every time.
On Christmas Eve Annie went to bed and wiped away tears as she listened to her favourite music to take her mind off tomorrow…
The next morning when she walked into the kitchen rubbing her sleepy eyes, she opened them to find Mum & Dad with beaming big smiles, even Clancy was standing there with a wonky grin. Dad scooped her into his arms, over his shoulder Annie spotted something under the Christmas tree…
“PRESENTS!” she exclaimed.
Christmas had come after all!
They enjoyed a delicious breakfast with eggs AND bacon (and of course milo).
After breakfast, the whole family sat down to open their presents. Annie’s gift was a set of feathered wings in the most beautiful blue she had ever seen!
“Woooow…they’re as blue as the sky!” she said as she raced up to Mum to help her put them on.
She wore them the entire day (and has worn them every day since).
Once everyone had opened their presents, Mum and Dad told them about the special visitors they had a few weeks before. Two ladies from a place called Drought Angels had come to deliver some food hampers and gifts for the whole family. There was also a hand-written Christmas card with vouchers that Mum had used to buy some special treats for Christmas lunch.
Annie remembered seeing the blue wings on the side of their car, she also remembered how nice they were; they sure seemed to make Mum & Dad happy when they handed them boxes with the same blue wings printed on the side.
Mum explained that Drought Angels was an organisation formed to help farming families across Australia just like them, who are not able to buy food or pay for their household expenses because of the drought. She told them how some farming families in other parts of Australia are struggling for other reasons, like bushfires or floods. Fires and floods sounded pretty scary to Annie, the thought of other farm kids experiencing them made her feel sad, and a little bit scared.
“Drought Angels help all farmers who are struggling to provide for their families because of all kinds of natural disasters” said Mum.
“Where do the presents come from?” asked Annie.
Mum replied “people in the cities across Australia and around the world send Drought Angels money and gifts to pass on to families just like ours. They want farming families to know there are people who care about them and to let them know they have not been forgotten.”
Annie’s heart swelled as she wiped happy tears from her eyes. She was never going to forget this day as long as she lived.
“From now on I’m calling myself Angel Annie – so I can be a Drought Angel too!” she declared.
Drought Angels gave Annie her wings that day, and Angel Annie has been reminding everyone of the special job Drought Angels do ever since…especially at Christmas!