Santa has not yet visited, but freshly baked sugar cookies anxiously await his arrival. The lights on the tall pine tree flicker and dance and cast a magical glow throughout the room. I look at the wonder in the faces of my grandchildren and feel blessed. I hear bells jingle and Christmas Past takes me on a sleigh ride back to 1981 and blessings of another place and time:
“My husband had just finished up a low-paying job with a trucking company and was determined to begin his full time return to college. We were flying by the seat of our pants with no forthcoming employment to speak of, crammed into a matchbox-sized apartment. Two rambunctious toddlers kept us busy, and I was immensely pregnant with baby number three.
As Christmas day approached, I found it more and more difficult to pretend to be happy about the holidays when there was no apparent evidence of its existence. Cupboards were almost bare. Tears were flowing more frequently. Hope was slipping through cracks around the apartment windows into the cold of winter.
One evening, just as I was longing for some sign of the season, a knock came at the door. Christmas looked a lot like our friend Donna, who was always full of energy and anxiously engaged in doing nice things for other people. “Merry Christmas,” she beamed as she barreled through the door with a bushy, blue spruce pine. “We just happened to have an extra Christmas tree and thought you might like one,” she explained, leaving before I had time to question her further. I have never been quite sure why someone would actually have an extra tree on hand, but I was extremely thankful for her generosity. With a few decorations from our holiday box, it became a striking conversation piece, because its branches filled our tiny living area. Its large presence allowed a small portion of holiday spirit to trickle into our home.
The next morning I opened our door, and there again stood Christmas. It appeared on my doorstep as another friend with a sack of food weighing down her arms. “I thought you might need a few extra groceries over the holidays,” she muttered, handing me the paper bag along with an envelope. This was not the only time this wonderful woman would miraculously appeared in our time of need. How could she possibly know of our desperate circumstances? As she hurried on her way, I inspected the contents of the brown bag and discovered a large ham with all the fixings and cold cereal and milk for Christmas morning. The envelope contained a $25 gift certificate to a local supermarket – which could still purchase quite a bit at that time.
With plenty of food and a decorated tree, Christmas entered our home with feelings of love, peace and joy. We knew that there would be next to nothing under the tree Christmas morning, but we found it easy to rejoice in the kindness that had been shown to us on the preceding days. Late in the evening of Christmas Eve, our little family crowded around the Christmas tree to eat cookies and sing Christmas carols to the guitar. All of a sudden, right in the middle of “Jingle bells”, we heard the distinct ringing of sleigh bells outside in the parking lot!
In an effort to scurry the kids off to bed early, we flung open the door and told the children that Santa was driving the pickup truck with the bells. Their little legs made a mad dash for the bedroom and climbed into bed before Saint Nick could catch them and leave a lump of coal in their stockings! But, could it be true? Was Santa really driving the festive pickup truck?
As we wondered which lucky child in the apartment complex was going to get a personal visit from the man in the red suit, Christmas himself jingled his way over to our door! Santa Claus asked to see our children, and calling them by name, he generously emptied two black plastic trash bags full of brightly decorated packages onto the floor directly beneath our Christmas tree. Colorful bows and holiday wrap carpeted the floor. Now there was NO room left in our living room! Neither was there room left in our hearts, which were full of gratitude for our Christmas friends – Heavenly Father’s angels on Earth who gave us the privilege of believing in Santa Claus.”
© 2013 Patricia J. Angus – Revision of the original text written in 1996 entitled “Yes, I Believe in Santa Claus”