St. Nick’s Note

St. Nick’s Note

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Book of Christmas Virtues

St. Nick’s Note

As the weatherman promised, the temperature climbs to ninety-eight by midafternoon. I waste no time retrieving the mail from our box.

“Whew! The humidity must be 102.” I collapse into a kitchen chair.

“You know it!” My husband agrees. He sits with both hands wrapped around a large glass of iced tea, still sweating after mowing the lawn.

“It’s only July. Aren’t you rushing the season a bit, Santa?” I tease.

“Are you referring to my red nose and cheeks?” He wiggles his bushy eyebrows. “Just getting a headstart on Christmas this year.”

My jolly old St. Nick delights hundreds of children—of all ages—each December. Whether he’s appearing at schools or in parades, he spreads his special Santa brand of love and kindness.

“Anything important?” He points at the mail on the table.

Fanning the pile, I hand him a farming magazine, a soil-and-water conservation newsletter and this month’s electric bill. Toward the bottom of the stack, I pause to inspect a small white envelope.

“You’re not going to believe this.” I turn the letter toward Alan. “It’s addressed to Santa Claus.”

“Well, maybe I’m not so early after all,” he chuckles. But instead of a wish list, he pulls out a hand-decorated card. “Thank You” is scrawled across the front. A trace of moisture washes his eyes.

“Remember these little guys, Mrs. Claus?” He hands me the card.

Oh, yes, I remember.

Each year I help Santa make “special deliveries”—for organizations, church groups or even concerned individuals— to single-parent families, the newly widowed, recently divorced, unemployed or those whose income barely covers essentials. These anonymous deliveries from Santa mean more than gifts under their trees or dinner on their tables: These deliveries express love and concern.

And this card comes from one of those single parents.

A month before last Christmas, this young mother found herself single and the sole provider for her seven-year-old twins. When she’d escaped her abusive situation, she was forced to leave behind most personal items, including her sons’ bikes. According to a caring counselor at the “safe house,” the distressed woman dreaded explaining to her sons that Santa couldn’t bring new bikes this year. She’d accepted all the help she felt she was entitled to and wouldn’t ask for more. Besides, bikes were a luxury.

Her friends didn’t agree.

Because of those friends, Santa and Mrs. Claus delivered quite a load of groceries, gaily wrapped presents— and two new bikes to the grateful mother. Identical blue-eyed, freckle-nosed faces burst into jack-o’lantern smiles a mile wide as they peeked around her skirt.

“Oh, my goodness . . . we can’t . . . who are you?” she stammered.

“Santa, of course! And this is Mrs. Claus,” my husband boomed with a wink at the boys. “You made a very special list this year, and we wanted to deliver these early.”

Santa’s parting, “Ho, ho, ho,” still echoed on the porch when a small, excited voice reached us, “Mama, I told you Santa would find us, even if we have to hide from Daddy.”

Opening the card that jolted my memory, I read aloud to Santa. “It took me seven long months to discover how to reach you. I was so surprised that morning you came, I’m not sure I remembered to thank you. You helped the healing process begin and gave us back faith and hope.”

Twin smiley faces followed the mother’s signature at the bottom.

They were identical to our own.

Pamela Bumpus

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