When Sophia thought of her birthday then, it still seemed far away– in summer. She pictured Giovina taking off the boots and the rain shrinking them down to her size. She pictured Giovina having fun in Italy with Jack, and buying new boots, so she could give Sophia the old pair. She tried to picture herself as a more grown up girl, going to Italy for her birthday.
As Sophia glanced out the window, she could see green grass. It was nearing the end of April, but still chilly out. Jack and Giovina had already returned from Italy, Sophia was sure of it. “When will we see Jack and Giovina?” Sophia asked. “I miss them and I want to see their pictures. Will they be back before my birthday comes?”
“They should be back soon.” said Momma. “And you may invite them. So you want to start planning your birthday?”
“Boots!” answered Sophia.
“So you want boots like Giovina’s?” Momma asked. “I don’t remember her wearing fancy boots.”
“Oh yes, she does. They wear everything fancy in Italy. She told me that. Let me draw you a picture,” Sophia said, determined.
Momma smiled, “You’re a little artist, just like Daddy!” she said.
Daddy looked at the picture. “Those look fancy, Sophia. You know we don’t have money for new things, especially if they are meant just to look fancy.” Daddy chuckled, “I wear post office boots, Momma wears hiking boots, but our little Sophia wants boots all the way from Italy!”
“Boots are not just to look fancy,” she said, repeating her idea: “Shoes take you places.”
“Sophia, shoes don’t take you places. Giovina does wear nice clothes, but she’s probably had them a long time and kept them nice. She can go to Italy because she saves money to go, plus she has family there to stay with– and besides she and Jack are only two people traveling together, not a family of four like us.”
“Yes, but she invited us to go next time, and we are from Italy, and we should go!” Sophia exclaimed eagerly.
“We’re not from Italy sweetie…” Daddy started to say.
“I know, not us—our ancestors are from Italy, that is, Grandma Barb’s dad, right? And his last name was Scalzitti, which means shoe-maker. And Grandma Barb’s mom was German, and your dad was from Puerto Rico, and mom’s family was from England and Germany. I know all that. But I want to go to all the places that our families are from. Why can’t we go?”
“I’ve always wanted to go to Italy, too” Daddy said. “But it will take time to save up money.”
“I know– Daddy, if you start painting more and selling your paintings, maybe then we can go to Italy!” Sophia said.
“Well,” Daddy said, “I have to keep my day job. But why don’t I do a painting for you, for your birthday. Find me a picture of someplace you have been– like our trip to Costa Rica, for instance. I’ll do a painting of you in a place you’ve already been.”
“O.K.” Sophia said. “As long as I can paint with you, Daddy!”
“That’s a great idea,” Momma said. “That will help you to be thankful for the places you have been. We have traveled a lot you know. Let’s look in our scrapbook tomorrow, and you can find a good picture for Daddy to paint from.”