Among the Christmas presents that 2-year-old Sulom'e Anderson received on Friday were dresses, toys, and a bracelet from her father, Terry. There was a card from him, too. What she was not told was that all the things had been bought by her mother Madeleine, on Terry's behalf. For this was the third Christmas that Sulom'e has spent without the father she has never met.
But the best gift of all was a surprise even to Madeleine. On Christmas eve, Mr. Anderson's captors, the Islamic Jihad, issued a video film in which he sent his love to his family and children, and a message to President Reagan. This was the first direct word from him since a similar film more than 14 months ago.
Anderson, Middle East correspondent of the Associated Press, was kidnapped in West Beirut in March 1985, just two months before Sulom'e was born.
Sulom'e, who now lives with her mother in Cyprus, is one of two ``hostage babies'' born after their fathers had been abducted in Beirut.
The other is Joanne Turner, six-month-old daughter of Prof. Jesse Turner. With two fellow-Americans and an Indian colleague, he was abducted from the Beirut University College campus in January.
Bringing up the child of a hostage is a lonely and often painful task. ``Nobody can imagine or feel what we are suffering - all the hostage wives, not only me,'' Mr. Turner's Lebanese wife, Badr, said. ``Christmas is coming, and New Year is coming, and we are alone, thinking about them and what they are doing... .''
Mr. Anderson and Mr. Turner are two of at least 21 foreigners missing in Lebanon. Most of those missing and still thought to be alive - eight Americans, three Frenchmen, two Britons, an Indian with US residency, a West German, an Irishman, and an Italian - are believed kidnapped by extremist groups linked to Iran. And most of them have wives and children, who either still live in Lebanon or make frequent trips to Cyprus and the region to seek their release. Anderson has been longest in captivity, held by Islamic Jihad.
Turner has appeared in two videotapes issued by his captors, the ``Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine.'' About two weeks ago, the group saidhe and three colleagues would suffer if Israel continued its crackdown on unrest in the occupied lands.
But there has been no direct communication from Turner, and Badr does not know if her husband is aware that he has a daughter. Like Sulom'e Anderson, Joanne is already beginning to recognize photographs of her father. Badr talks to her about him every day, keeping alive the image for the day he comes home.