For the last three months I’ve been sporting a full gray-white beard. I started it on October 15, the day after my son and daughter-in-law got married on Lake Tahoe.
The day before yesterday I went to Walmart to purchase a last-minute gift for my wife. While wondering the aisles, a little girl, about five-years old and her younger brother, stopped me.
“Why are you shopping here, Santa?” she asked.
More than a little taken back, I glanced at her mother, who smile politely and was obviously enjoying her child’s error, I answered, “Because even Santa needs a little help sometimes.”
“Oh,” she responded. Then without missing a beat she asked, “Can me and my brother tell you what we want for Christmas?”
My heart melted. “Yes, you can,” I replied as I got down on one knee so she’d have a place to sit.
She whispered in my ear, telling me it was secret. When done, I responded, “That’s a big one. I think my boss will have to know about this.”
“You have a boss?’
“Whose your boss?”
“God. Do you say your prayers every night?”
She nodded her head ‘yes.’
“Good,” I said, “and I’ll say a prayer that you get what you want for Christmas, too.”
She hugged me as I added, “Jus’ remember we don’t always get what we want and there’s always a reason and sometimes we don’t know what that reason is. Can you be brave if you don’t get everything you ask for?”
“Is it alright if I’m sad if I don’t get what I want?”
“It is. You can even cry and be mad.” We hugged again as she climbed from my knee.
“Thank you, Santa,” she smiled as she went to her mom’s side and took her hand. As for the little brother, he was too shy to ask this Santa’s helper for anything.
The mom silently lipped ‘thank you,’ as she turned down the aisle. I winked at her and quickly rushed from the store without buying anything.
It took about 15 minutes before I could drive home, the tears were too much to see through as the innocence of that little girl tore my heart in two. And that night as I lay in bed, I said a special prayer with the faith that her secret – her mother’s cancer – will be healed, then I cried myself to sleep.