Photo provided by Jackie Turner.

It’s the holidays – the time of love, friends, and family. Everyone gathering around their traditional holiday items, whether they be trees or Menorahs or whatever beautiful, historical items exist in their culture, sharing gifts and food and happiness. (Well, and also stressing out and fighting the mall crowds, but we won’t go there!)

But that happiness isn’t always there. For some people, the holidays cause deep and abiding despair, heartache, and a loneliness such as some will never understand. Some people never had families, or if they did, they were horrific and not to be remembered with fondness. December is not a favored month for me – too much pain, too many bad memories, and heartaches. But my pain is nothing compared to the pain of others.

As a huge CBS News Sunday Morning fan, I sat down this AM to watch. If you haven’t watched the show before, record it if you don’t get up early on Sunday mornings. I do – that way I can watch it when I get up, complete with tea and fuzzy slippers. And this morning I saw something that both tore at my heart and filled it with warmth.

Turner, a California college student who was sexually, emotionally, and physically abused by her biological parents before escaping into the streets, lived a life riddled with gang violence and poverty, eventually serving a one-year prison sentence.

“I was in gang life, on the streets, fighting, doing drugs, just making a mess of my life,” says Turner.

Upon her release in 2010, Turner worked to turn her life around, attending Christian Encounter Ministries, a camp for troubled youth, before moving on to William Jessup University in Rocklin, California where she holds a 4.0 GPA.

Though Turner knows her life appears great on the outside, things aren’t always what they seem:

“There’s still something deep inside of me. There’s this void, my biological parents aren’t here, and it’s kept this hole inside of me.”

Which is why she tried to rent a mother and father for Christmas, offering $8 an hour for the gig:

“Just to sit, just to listen,” Turner said. “Just to cry with me, no strings beyond that. I’ve never felt the touch of my Mom hugging me and holding me. I don’t know what it’s like to look in my dad’s eyes and feel love instead of hatred.”

What she got instead might not have been what she expected, but it was exactly what she needed.

Families not only offered to take her in for free, other people who had been abused, abandoned and neglected spoke out as well.

“When you speak up, people start learning that they’re not by themselves. Often we lock things inside of ourselves, like a lock box of our secrets. But then you let one out and realize, ‘I’m not by myself after all, am I?’”

Instead of joining a family for Christmas, Turner plans on getting all those who share her void together for the holidays.

The video below is from the CBS News Sunday Morning website. It is well worth watching, and remembering – there may be a lot of bad people in this world . . .

But sometimes, you can be surprised in the most beautiful of ways.