Saint Thérèse tells us that on Christmas day, 1886, when she was all but 14 years old:
‘I received the grace to leave my childhood behind; in a word the grace of my complete conversion. We were coming home from Midnight Mass where I had had the happiness of receiving God, the strong and powerful (Ps 24:8). I was so happy at the thought of finding my shoes by the fireside, this old custom that had given us so much pleasure in our childhood that Céline [her elder sister who had looked after Thérèse since their mother had died nine years previously] kept on treating me like a baby since I was the youngest in the family. Papa loved to see my joy as I drew each surprise from the enchanted shoes, and my King’s gladness increased my own.
Jesus, however, wanted me to leave behind my childish failings through giving up its innocent pleasures. He allowed Papa, who was tired after Midnight Mass, to express his irritation at seeing my shoes by the fireplace with words that pierced me to the heart: ‘This is the last year, happily.’
I went upstairs to take off my hat. Céline who could see the tears in my eyes, ready to fall, for she loved me greatly and understood my sorrow, said to me, ‘Oh, Thérèse, don’t come down, it will be too hard for you to look through your shoes just now.’
But it was not the same Thérèse! Jesus had changed her! I fought back my tears and went quickly downstairs, and ignoring my palpitating heart, took my shoes, laid them in front of Papa and joyfully pulled out all the little things, as happy as a queen.
Papa laughed; he too had become joyful again. Céline felt she was dreaming! This was the happy, sweet reality of the moment: Thérèse had recovered the strength of soul that she had lost at four and a half years old, and she would keep it forever!