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It was just a few days before Christmas, and school was out for the holidays. Joyful children all over the world were baking cookies, shopping for presents, decorating their homes with Christmas lights, and visiting relatives.
Eight-year-old Caroline was one of those children. Caroline had been planning a trip to visit her grandfather who lived in a nearby town. Her mother was to drive her there but couldn't stay because she had to be at work that evening.
Caroline was very excited about the visit because she loved her grandfather very much. He was a great storyteller, and she looked forward to hearing tales of his many adventures in far-off lands.
When they arrived at her grandfather's house, it was already dark; and, she could see a brightly decorated Christmas tree in the living room window. Caroline hopped out of the car with her little suitcase and ran as fast as her legs could carry her toward the door. Just as she arrived, her grandfather who had been watching for her opened the door, and Caroline jumped into his waiting arms. They both waved goodbye to Caroline's mom who was in too much of a hurry to come in.
"Grandpaw, I am so happy to see you!" exclaimed Caroline as she planted a big kiss on his cheek.
"Tiny, you are as pretty as ever." replied her grandfather as he kissed her cheek in return.
His lips felt something warm and salty on Caroline's cheek. It was a tear. Her grandfather looked at her and exclaimed, "Tiny, why are you crying? What's the matter?"
"Grandpaw, I love you very much, but it makes me terribly sad when you call me Tiny. " Caroline explained. "I've always been the smallest girl in my class and the other children make fun of my size and call me all sorts of hurtful names like Eenie and Itsy and Small Fry and Little Bit, and Runt."
By this time, tears were streaming down Caroline's cheeks, and she began to sob pitifully. Her grandfather carried her over to his big rocking chair and gently held her in his lap and rocked back and forth until her tears stopped flowing. Caroline looked up into her Grandfather's face and could see that he too had been crying.
"Grandpaw, what's wrong? Why are you crying? Do people call you names?" asked Caroline.
"Yes, Honey, I've been made fun of too, but that's not what is making me sad. I am sad because you are sad, and I love you so much that I can't stand it when you are unhappy." replied the grandfather.
"Grandpaw, may I talk to you about something that hurts even worse than being teased about my size?" asked Caroline.