The Year Santa Came Late
My husband’s career as a commercial truck driver meant that he spent weeks away from home when our daughter Meagan was young. Long haul trucking companies operated 24/7/365, but they generally made a genuine effort to make sure that he was at least able stop at home for part of Christmas day.
One year as the holiday neared, though, a major snow and ice storm hit. It was two days until Christmas and he was only two states away, but the roads were shut down and he was stuck. Although we hoped and prayed it would clear up in time for him to come home, the weather forecasts did not sound promising. I gently informed Meagan that her daddy might not be home in time for Christmas.
Her face fell when she heard the news. Then I saw the familiar look on her face that told me her little inner wheels were turning.
“I have an idea!” she announced, running off to her room.
She came back a little while later with a sheet of paper that she had written on, asking if she could please have an envelope.
“Sure,” I replied, cautiously, “but what do you need it for?”
“I wrote a letter to Santa asking him to help Daddy get home for Christmas,” she informed me. Her face shone as though she was sure that she had solved the problem.
I didn’t know how to respond, not wanting to dash her hopeful spirits or quash her lingering belief in the Jolly Old Elf (which would be gone by the following holiday, I was certain).
“You know,” I proceeded carefully, “Santa is super busy right now. He might not get the letter in time, but we can try.”
She was not to be deterred, though, and informed me that Santa was magic. She just knew he would get her letter in time and that he would be able to fix everything. I took her sealed letter and prayed that things would workout somehow.
The next day was Christmas Eve and things only seemed to go from bad to worse. Meagan woke up complaining that her tummy hurt. I assumed it was because she was worried about her daddy getting home in time. I was wrong.
A short while after breakfast, my stomach began to ache as though someone had wrapped a belt around my midsection and tugged it tightly. Was I stressing too or was it something worse?
My question was answered by the sound of Meagan’s footsteps dashing from the couch to the bathroom, followed by well, you know, that horribly unmistakable sound. I rushed in to check on her.
“Mommy, I’m sick,” she whined.
Not long after I had her nestled on the couch with a bucket close by, I realized I wasn’t getting off that easy. The cinching pain I had felt gave way to nausea, and soon I was running for the bathroom myself.
Resting my cheek on the cool porcelain of the bathtub, I wanted to cry. It was Christmas Eve, my husband was miles away and now...this. I still had cookies to bake, gifts to wrap, and stockings to stuff. I didn’t know how on Earth I could possibly get it done.
We spent the day in the living room, watching movies, dozing off, sipping ginger ale, and scampering to the bathroom. Upon waking from a brief nap, I noticed a notepad and pencil on Meagan’s blanket. She was sleeping peacefully, so I tiptoed over to see what she had been doing.
She had written a note on the paper that read:
I hope you got my letter. Me and my mom are sick and my daddy is still stuck far away. Mommy always tells me that bad things can turn into good ones if we have faith. I know you are busy, but if you could please wait one more day to come to our house, maybe we will feel better and my dad will be home. We will have fresh cookies waiting for you just like always.
Not long after, my phone rang. It was my husband, checking in on us and letting me know that the roads would be open the next morning and he would be home late Christmas night. He felt awful about being late, until I told him about the note.
When she woke up, I told her that I had sent the letter by airmail to be sure Santa received it in time. Thankfully, we both slept soundly that night and woke up feeling weak but so much better.
Later in the day, we baked a fresh batch of Santa’s favorite cookies. When she woke up the next morning, the gifts were wrapped and under the tree, her stocking was plump with presents, and her Daddy was waiting for her. Her childlike faith reminded me that no matter how gloomy things may appear, they can always work out if we just believe that they will.
What are some of your favorite Christmas memories with the family?
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