Christmas giving: Letter from Canada

Published 8:00 am Friday, December 24, 2021

Recently, I shared a plea from families asking for help. Christmas can be a visible reminder of who receives generously and who gets little or nothing! Christmas was never meant to be that way. I also shared ideas on how to keep Christ in Christmas. One of our readers from Canada sent a story to help us all appreciate the true meaning of Christ in Christmas.

Almost 19 years ago I loaded up an old car with two children, two cats, a dog and all our possessions packed tightly into a U-Haul along with whatever could be stuffed into the covered roof rack and the interior of the already crowded car. Both children were babies in car seats. In the middle of the night, in the midst of a terrible blizzard we left my home city and my immediate family because of a bad marriage and an abusive husband.

The blizzard continued throughout the night and next day, spanning our home province of Manitoba and the neighboring province of Saskatchewan. Feverishly I pushed on with very few stops and no sleep, driving endlessly through the whirling, blinding snow. By the time we crossed through Alberta and landed in British Columbia, thirty-eight hours elapsed and exhausted as I was, I still kept going. We literally ran out of gas in Mission, British Columbia a town with a rough reputation and the crime rate of a large city yet they took us in and Mission became our home for 17 years.

By the time Christmas arrived, the children and I were coming out of a transition house with only a rented rundown trailer to go home to. I purchased an artificial Christmas tree for a precious $10 but I cried night after night as the Christmas season descended upon us. The children looked with hungry eyes at all the wonder of the shopping malls and many gifts. I remember sitting with a heavy heart while they wrote their letter to Santa looking at the crayon marks and the backward letters lined up in misspelled words. My oldest (3 years old) wanted to put the letter in the mailbox himself so I lifted him high with the precious letter and let him drop it in the box. As we walked home, they kept asking when Santa would send a reply or would he just bring the gifts on the joyous much anticipated morning. At this point my heart was breaking and I could think of no answer.

On Christmas Eve there was a knock at the door. I nervously opened it a crack and saw four big rough looking men but each of them was carrying a huge box filled with food and gifts. My oldest son looked up at the biggest man who was sporting a beard and asked: “Are you Santa?”

In a deep gruff voice, the man answered “No but he sent us — his best Elves — to deliver gifts to your baby brother and you. Santa’s only request is that you give thanks tonight and every night when you say your prayers. Can you do that?”

As I type this email, I still get tears in my eyes. The joy and wonderment of that moment will never be forgotten. Someone, somewhere opened that letter and the Salvation Army stepped in along with volunteers from the Rehabilitation Center for Men. I was a single mother with two babies, no job, no home and I was running out hope. Yet that Christmas will live on in my heart forever.

For many years after that, we would go and select two angels off the “Angel of Hope” Christmas tree. We would spend hours selecting just the perfect gift. My boys are now men but they still go to pluck an angel from the tree. I also go because I know there are children who may not have a great Christmas and there are mothers faced with the tears and fears of the day and season.

Many years passed and we have moved from the town that extended their arms to us. My boys are men now, but they carry the memories. The kindness and love shown by the unknown people who made our most wonderful Christmas will never be forgotten. My love to “Santa’s elves” whose quick smile and twinkling eyes brought it altogether for my family.

May God’s peace and love be there for all but hopefully it won’t stop there! Carry God’s love with you always and let your light shine bright.

Joanne

Submitted by Rev. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.