I recently remembered something that happened at Christmas time a few years ago. Although it is an old story, I want to share it with you as Christmas is approaching.
It was December, and time to take the birthday girls from Hope Ranch out for their birthday celebration. We arrived at the mall, and Santa was there waiting for children to give him their Christmas lists. He motioned for our girls to come, but they nervously hung back, having never had this experience. I noticed Jacqueline, one of our youngest. She was looking longingly at Santa. I urged her to go forward, and she said, “I can’t,” as she pulled closer to me. “Why not?” I asked. “Because it would be wrong for me to ask for anything more.” But just then Santa spied us and walked over. He addressed our girls in a jolly voice, “Merry Christmas! You just have to believe, and all your dreams will come true!” I felt my anxiety growing. I didn’t want our girls to have any more disappointments in their young lives. Not if it could be avoided.
As we turned to walk away, Jacqueline dropped back. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her suddenly sprint over towards Santa. She whispered something in his ear, and later that evening, I snuck away to ask Santa what Jacqueline had said. She had asked for a bicycle.
Near the end of our birthday celebration, Jacqueline took my hand and looked up at me with her big, innocent eyes. “Santa won’t really bring me what I asked for, will he?” Her question showed she knew the impossibility, but her eyes were full of hope. It broke my heart to say, “Probably not, sweetheart.”
Our seventy girls share six pairs of donated roller blades—and are happy they have them. The girls with small feet stuff socks in the toe; the girls with bigger feet squish their feet in there and leave the laces open a bit. The thought of a bicycle for them to share seemed a long way off. Our children are happy. They know what it means to have nothing, but now they are thrilled with having a warm bed, food to eat and house parents who love them. They dare not set their expectations too high for holidays like Christmas.
However, like any parent, we want to make Christmas Day magical! We like to give each child a bag with toys and goodies to make Christmas a special day to remember. Of course, Santa and gifts under the tree are not why we celebrate Christmas. There’s a greater gift we celebrate, the greatest gift of all – Jesus’ birth! Our precious Savior, Jesus Christ, came to the earth long, long ago. Jesus’ birth seemed impossible. It was unlikely. People probably knew the impossibility but still beamed with hope. And because of God’s love, Jesus was born on earth!
Shortly after our birthday outing with the girls, we sent out a letter to the local community, telling of Jacqueline’s wish. Christmas was getting closer and closer. As we celebrated God’s great gift, Jesus’ birth, we also celebrated how great He still is.
By Christmas, we had received 8 brand new bicycles, which people brought over as donations. Jacqueline got her wish! Her wish wasn’t granted because of Santa’s love for her but because of God’s love – for her, and for each of us!