My husband had been out of work for almost 6 months. We had overcome a lot that year: a diagnosis and subsequent treatment of cervical cancer for me, an almost-tragic accident in which my 5-year-old daughter’s heart had stopped beating, and we had welcomed a new baby daughter (our fifth child) into our family. We had used up our resources, both financially and emotionally, and were running on empty.
Nevertheless, Christmas was fast approaching, and we hoped to find a way to make it as normal as possible for our kids. Without funds to purchase a tree, we cut down one that had grown outside our front door (apparently, the previous owners thought it was a bush when they planted it). It was scrawny and twisted, but our little “Charlie Brown” tree was a blessing to us. We weren’t sure what we would do about a Christmas dinner, but friends surprised us with a gift certificate from local grocery store and one from a toy store; we were blessed again.
We had bills to pay, but trusted that the Lord had brought us through thus far and would continue to care for us. Our children dug holes in the back yard, trying to find buried treasure to support our family. We saved box tops from cereal to mail in for small books and stuffed animals to put in their stockings. I saved $9.00 out of grocery money to purchase a pizza stone for my husband’s Christmas gift and he saved his change to buy me a pair of slippers. It was as innocent an Advent Season and as blessed as I could remember; however, we had bills and no way to pay them.
On Dec. 6th that year, the feast of St. Nicholas, our children wanted us to tell them the real story of St. Nick. I think the two oldest were starting to doubt the Santa stories and wanted the reassurance of the truth, while still seeking a way to remain in childhood a little longer. We explained how the idea of “Santa” got started because of a gentle Bishop, named Nicholas. We shared the story of his generosity and love for Jesus. The kids loved hearing how Saint Nicholas helped those in need and the light of possibility shone in their eyes again.
That evening, we heard a sound that seemed to be coming from the yard. It almost sounded like … well, reindeer hooves. A loud knock sounded at the door and we all rushed to see who it was, but there was no one standing there. There were large footprints leading to our door, but not a soul in sight!
At the door was a package. It contained a video of It’s a Wonderful Life, a Richard Scarry book, and cash, enough to pay the bills!! God had blessed us (through the kindness of another) with a way to make it through Christmas and my children’s devotion to St. Nicholas and belief in the real Santa Claus had been restored. To this day, our adult children talk about the Christmas that Santa visited us. That Christmas, we found our innocence again. It is a good reminder to not get caught up in the to-do lists and commercialism of the holiday. It was one of our best Christmases ever. A week after Christmas, my husband found work and our ongoing commitment to pay it forward began.
Copyright 2017 Mary Lou Rosien