THERE are still a few weeks to go before Christmas but the festive atmosphere is already tangible in the De Jager family home in Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng.
A huge Christmas tree has pride of place in a corner of the lounge and although there are no gifts under the tree yet, Amy’Leigh (6) and her brother, Jayden (4), have already written their letters to Santa and put them in their Christmas stockings.
It’s hard to believe this is the same house where there was so much grief and anxiety just a few months ago.
Now it’s all go-go-go for Christmas. “The kids got home from school one
day and were hanging around, bored. So we decided to put up the Christmas tree,” mom Angeline (26) says.
After the traumatic events that played out three months ago when Amy’Leigh was kidnapped outside her school, the young mom thought her family deserved some light-heartedness. And it seems to be lifting spirits in the household just as she hoped.
Amy’Leigh skips into the room and takes her letter to Santa out of her stocking.
“I really want this doll,” she says, pointing to a picture she cut out of a magazine and stuck onto the page. At the top, she’s written her name in wonky letters.
There are also pictures of a kitchen set for a doll’s house and a jar of Nutella spread to satisfy her sweet tooth.
But despite the festive atmosphere and the prospect of the long summer holiday ahead, the emotional scars still linger.
AMY ’LEIGH runs outside where storm clouds are brewing in the distance. A moment later she’s back with a pink rose.
“This is for Mommy,” she says. Angeline hugs her and kisses her on the forehead.
Then the little girl skips over to the Christmas tree and puts the rose among the other decorations on the branches before she and her little brother go to her room to play.
“Amy’Leigh’s not doing well,” Angeline reveals once her daughter has left the room.
“She still has nightmares. She cries in her sleep and sometimes dreams of her kidnappers.
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