By Jackie Purtan - 2/21/2012

Imagine, just for a moment, that you are six years old again. It must be morning, because the faintest light of dawn sneaks it’s way through a tiny gap in the special “Dinosaur” curtains your mom made for your bedroom window. Gradually a sliver of sunshine inches across the floor and comes to rest on the T-Rex in the center of your matching “Dinosaur” quilt. The rumble in your stomach breaks the silence, reminding you that it’s time to head downstairs for breakfast; judging by the delicious scent in the air…pancakes and crispy bacon. You throw back the covers, and - still toasty warm in your “feetie pajamas”, grab your favorite stuffed animal and rush down the steps - two at a time - to the kitchen.

And then you wake up.

You’re still six… but you’re not warm at all, in fact you feel frozen to the bone. There are no special curtains and quilt, no feetie pajamas, no delicious smells tickling your nose. The only thing that’s the same is the rumble in your tummy.

You’re hungry. You’re cold. Gazing around, reality hits hard, like it has for more mornings than you can remember. And breakfast… well you’ll just have to wait until lunch.

You’re in the same clothes you wore yesterday - they’re ragged and dirty, but along with the threadbare blanket your Mom tucked you in with last night, you’re not as cold as you could be.

It’s not your Mom’s fault. Or your Dad’s. You’ve heard the words “ecomommy” and “drown- slizing” and although you don’t know what they mean exactly, you have a feeling it’s not a good thing. The one happy part is that your Dad is around a lot more now, since he lost his job.

But maybe that’s not really a happy thing. Cuz your parents whisper a lot, but they don’t know that you have Super Hero powers that give you Super-Sensitive Hearing. You’re powers are so strong that you can hear your mom cry - even when she tries to be quiet and buries her face in the stained shapeless thing she uses as a pillow.

You wish you had other powers. It would be cool to have X-Ray vision and even more awesome if you could fly. You’d put on your special cape and fly your Mom & Dad - and even your annoying baby brother and sister - to “The Planet HappEness”. That’s the place you dreamed up in your head where there’s plenty of food and clean clothes, and tears - but the happy kind, not the kind that come when you’re sad.

You squeeze your eyes shut super-duper tight and try to will yourself into becoming a Super Hero. But just like all the other times, when you open them, nothing has changed.

The hours go by slowly. Who knew it could take forever to get to lunchtime?

Finally, you hear it. The familiar horn honking. Everyone in the family scrambles to get to the door, and together you walk to the corner - heads held high because your Mom always says you have “nothing to be ashamed of - but plenty to be grateful for”.

And there it is. The bestest, coolest, most awesome thing you imagine you’ll ever see. The Salvation Army Bed & Bread truck.