A Story of Christmas Magic

Photo Credit: Lady Dragon Fly via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Lady Dragon Fly via CC Flickr

One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season, is finding interesting and heartwarming stories that touch your soul and put a smile on your face. Well. today, I was reading some stories on the web page “The Gathering Place” and came across this story. Even though the author is unknown, I felt that it was a sweet little tale to share with you!

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Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl.

“Who is this?” asked Santa, smiling. “Your friend? Your sister?”

“Yes, Santa,” he replied. “My sister, Sarah, who is very sick,” he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

“She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!” the child exclaimed. “She misses you,” he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy’s face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas.

When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

“What is it?” Santa asked warmly.

“Well, I know it’s really too much to ask you, Santa, but ….” the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa’s elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors.

“…The girl in the photograph … my granddaughter . well, you see … she has leukemia and isn’t expected to make it even through the holidays,” she said through tear-filled eyes. “Is there any way, Santa . any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That’s all she’s asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa.”

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do.

Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do.

“What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying,” he thought with a sinking heart, “this is the least I can do.”

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children’s Hospital.

“Why?” Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah’s grandmother earlier that day.

“C’mon …. I’ll take you there,” Rick said softly.

Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall.

Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl’s brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah’s mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah’s thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah’s aunt, sat in a Chair near the bed ! with weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.

Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, “Ho, ho, ho!”

“Santa!” shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes intact.

Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son — 9 years old — gazed up at him with wonder and excitement.

Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he ad to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah’s face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room.

As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa’s shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering “thank you” as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes.

Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she’d been a very good girl that year.

As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl’s mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah’s bed, holding hands.

Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels.

“Oh, yes, Santa … I do!” she exclaimed.

“Well, I’m going to ask that angels watch over you,” he said.

Laying one hand on the child’s head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still
with eyes closed, he started singing softly,

“Silent Night, Holy Night …. all is calm, all is bright.”

The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah’s frail, small hands in his own.

“Now, Sarah,” he said authoritatively, “you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!”

He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he “had” to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could — not dolls or games or toys — but the gift of HOPE.

“Yes, Santa!” Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room.

Out in the hall, the minute Santa’s eyes met Rick’s, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed.

Sarah’s mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa’s side to thank him.

“My only child is the same age as Sarah,” he explained quietly. “This is the least I could do.”

They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap.

“Hi, Santa! Remember me?!”

“Of course, I do,” Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her. After all, the secret to being a “good” Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the “only” child in the world at that moment.

“You came to see me in the hospital last year!”

Santa’s jaw dropped. Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest.
“Sarah!” he exclaimed.

He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy — much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before.

He looked over and saw Sarah’s mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed — and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about — this miracle of hope. This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well. He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, “Thank you, Father. ‘Tis a very, Merry Christmas!”

Celebrating the Light: Christmas During the Darkness of War

Photo Credit: Leyram Odacrem via Flickr

Photo Credit: Leyram Odacrem via Flickr

I read the following story about a Christmas experience that I not only found fascinating but heartwarming as well. It was written by a survivor of World War II and was written in her own words…Helen Grace Lescheid

The second World War raged in Europe during Christmas Eve in 1944.

Mother, with four small children, had fled our native Ukraine with the retreating German army. Father had been reported missing in action.

Now we were refugees living in a two-room shack in Dieterwald, Poland. But again the fighting front was only about fifty kilometers away. Frequent air raids sent us scurrying for cover. Explosions rattled the windows. Army trucks brought in the wounded and the dead. Hay wagons filled with refugees rumbled west; bombers droned overhead and army tanks rolled east. Partisans (underground resistance) attacked innocent women and children at night.

Nobody in his right mind went out into the dark winter night.

And yet, it was Christmas Eve. Two women had prepared a Christmas party in a neighboring village and invited us. Mother, wanting to give us children joy, accepted.

She instructed my sister and me to dress warmly against the winter’s cold. “Tonight we’re going to a party,” she said. Being only eight-years old, I sensed no danger–only wondrous excitement.

Hurriedly my sister, two years younger, and I dressed. If only Mother would hurry! A simple wick flickered in a saucer of oil–our only light. We could barely see her shadowy form as she bustled about getting my four-year-old brother, Fred, and almost two-year-old sister, Katie, ready. Finally Mother was putting on her heavy winter coat, kerchief, and warm felt boots.

With one small breath, she blew out the oil lamp. It was pitch dark now.

“Open the door, Lena,” she called to me.

We stepped onto the crisp snow covering the farmyard. A moon crescent hung above a large house across the yard where the estate owners lived–kind people who treated us refugees well. It, too, was shrouded in darkness.

Mother lifted Katie and shuffled her to her back: she’d carry her piggyback for the five kilometers.

“Hang tight onto my coat collar,” she coaxed. Then, turning towards us girls, she said, “You take Fred’s hands.” My younger sister and I complied. We had often taken care of our little brother while mother had culled potatoes in the big barns or had done other chores for the landowners.

At the road, we stopped. Although I knew it well from my treks to school, I could barely make out the houses on either side of the street. No street lights were allowed now. Windows heavily draped permitted no light to seep out of the houses.

My mother hesitated for a brief moment. Then she said, “Come, we’ll take the shortcut across the fields.”

The snow crunched as four pairs of feet punched holes in the white expanse of open fields. Stars spangled the vault of sky above us. A blood-red glow smeared the eastern sky. At times an explosion sent flames shooting into the sky.

“Girls, recite your poems to me.” Mother’s voice sounded a bit shaky. Her arms aching, she put Katie down on the snowy ground. Our recitations of Christmas poems made white puffs in the cold night air.

When we finished, Mother said, “Speak up loud and clear when your turn comes. No mumbling.”

She lifted Katie once more onto her back, and we began to walk again. On and on we walked. But we were far too excited to be tired.

Finally we arrived at our friends’ house. The door opened and we stepped inside. I felt I had stepped into heaven itself. Lights! A whole room full of lights.

Candlelight flickered from a small Christmas tree and bounced out of happy children’s eyes. Heavily draped windows kept the light inside–for us to revel in. Red paper chains decked the tree; delicate paper cherubs smiled down upon us.

We squeezed in amongst women and children sitting on the floor. Soon the room filled with singing: “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht.”(Silent Night, Holy Night) Some mothers sang alto, the rest of us, soprano. We sang with gusto and from memory, songs that lifted our hearts above the terrors of war and inspired new hope for the days ahead.

I can’t remember our long trek home that night, but I do remember the wonderful gifts I received; my right pocket bulged with the most beautiful ball I’d ever seen. A very colorful ball it was. Much later, I learned it had been made out of scrunched up rags wrapped in rainbow colored yarn probably gleaned from unraveling old sweaters. The other pocket held three cookies!

Soon after that wonderful Christmas party, we were evacuated. Icy winds blew snow into our faces as we cowered on an uncovered hay wagon pulled by two scrawny horses. With the front so close behind, we traveled day and night. Once it was safe to stop, we slept in drafty barns. We ate hunks of frozen bread and drank the occasional cup of milk supplied by a Red Cross jeep.

But the warm memory of that Christmas celebration shone like a small candle in the darkness.

Even years later, when my own life’s circumstances seemed too bleak to celebrate Christmas, I remembered the truth of Christmas born in my heart that night: Jesus, the light of the world came to us at Christmas time and no amount of darkness can put out that light.

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Source: thoughts-about-god.com

A Christmas Story: The Man Who Hated Christmas

Photo Credit: Pitsk via Flickr

Photo Credit: Pitsk via Flickr

The short, inspirational Christmas story below was originally published in the December 14, 1982 issue of Woman’s Day magazine. This moving story inspired the creation of The White Envelope Project, a caring nonprofit organization dedicated to developing the next generation of givers, civic leaders, and philanthropists. May this inspirational story remind us all of the true meaning of Christmas and giving during the holidays and throughout the year. The story was written by Nancy W. Gavin.

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It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it – overspending and the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma – the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was on the wrestling team at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.

As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids – all kids. He so enjoyed coaching little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came.

That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes, and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed a small, white envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done, and that this was his gift from me.

Mike’s smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year. And that same bright smile lit up succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition – one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The white envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children – ignoring their new toys – would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the small, white envelope never lost its allure.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree. And the next morning, I found it was magically joined by three more. Unbeknownst to the others, each of our three children had for the first time placed a white envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down that special envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.