Hollie Grimaldi Flores: The spirit of Christmas
I have shared this story before but feel now more than ever we could all use a reminder of how generous and compassionate people can be and what an impact that can make in the lives of the people who may need it most. We are all going through “stuff.” Let’s be compassionate and kind.
One day in December in the late 90s I came home from work to find a note taped to my front door addressed to my children. It read, “Dear Trevor and Courtney, Santa is very worried! He has not received your wish list yet and Christmas is almost here. Please call Santa’s Workshop so we can get busy. Signed, Santa’s Elves.”
My son, who was about eight years old, tore up the stairs, grabbed the phone, and dialed the number listed. A message came on that said, “Hello! You’ve reached Santa’s Workshop. Please leave your list after the tone.” He quickly ran down the items he had memorized in his head. A Game Boy (all the rage at the time), a skateboard and other games. Then he listed all the items he knew his four-year-old sister would like as well, including (among other things), a Barbie camper and Barney the dinosaur toys. It was a sweet moment for me to realize he understood her wishes as well as his own.
A few days later I received a call from the local church we attended letting me know someone had “adopted us” for the holidays and asking if I could come by and pick up the packages. I was a single mom at the time and although I was just getting by, I had not signed up for the angel trees or any of the other charity offerings as I always felt someone needed those services more than I did. I thought I was managing, but in truth, I was in angst over what one big gift I could get my son – the Game Boy or a skateboard. He wanted both, but it was going to be one or the other and Barbie recreational vehicles of any kind were completely out of financial reach, and therefore off the list for my daughter. So, I went to the church office a bit embarrassed but grateful and picked up the bag of gifts, which I assumed were tied to the note left by “Santa’s elves.” Of course, I peeked at what we had been given and while there were many nice items — some coloring books, puzzles and games — not one of the toys my son had requested were included. I thought it odd but was also appreciative for the gesture.
I then went back to stressing and debating about how to fulfill my children’s Christmas wishes and finally settled on the electronic game for my son and a stuffed Barney and other toys for my daughter.
On Christmas Eve, after the kids were asleep, I began wrapping the gifts while watching midnight mass from St. Peter’s Basilica when my phone rang. “Ho. Ho. Ho.” A deep voice boomed. “Look outside! Santa has delivered your packages.” Click. I hung up the phone and looked outside. Nothing was there. As a single mom, home with just my two young children, I quickly drew all the blinds! That was weird, I thought. Was someone watching me? I shrugged it off and went back to wrapping the gifts.
When I was finally ready for bed – now about 3 a.m., I realized I didn’t know where I had put my keys and decided to look in the door (I had been known to leave them in the lock). There, on the porch were two large garbage bags, bursting with gifts. I looked around. The street was quiet. I brought the bags inside and unloaded dozens of wrapped presents addressed to Trevor, to Courtney and to me.
Christmas morning my children woke me early and bounded down the stairs. With tears streaming down my face, I watched them unwrap every gift my son had rattled off. Santa had come through — from the coveted Game Boy to the Barbie camper and more. I quietly grabbed the one I had bought and tucked it away. There were gifts for me as well, including jewelry and essentials for our home. It was an amazing gesture of generosity and selflessness my children and I will never forget.
Not believe in Santa Claus? We have experienced him firsthand. The spirit of Christmas was delivered to our home. Members of the community we live in wrapped their arms around my family in a way I could never have dreamed possible. Beyond the gifts, this incredible, generous act restored my faith, gave me hope, and filled our home with the magic of the season. To this day we smile and are grateful to Santa and his elves who gave a single Mom and her two small children the best Christmas ever.
While we may not be able to gather our extended families together this holiday season, I know the true meaning reaches beyond our physical limitations. Hold onto those you love and be kind to those who may be a bit harder to understand. May you have the best Christmas possible as we look forward to a happy and healthy new year.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@ gmail.com.
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