I don’t know if you remember me. You knew me as Lorie Calhoun. We were best friends in fourth and fifth grade, before I moved to the West Coast. I found you through a class reunion web site, and I knew it was you as soon as I saw your picture! You have a beautiful family, and your son is almost the same age as my little boy.
Last week at Thanksgiving, my pastor suggested that we write letters to the people that led us to Christ. Immediately, I thought of you.
Do you remember my first day at Jackson Street Christian School? I was so scared, so unsure what to expect. So much had changed for me when my parents divorced. Mom and I had sold our house and moved to an apartment in an unfamiliar neighborhood. The nearest public school was a scary place, with gangs and bullies and a lot of things I’d never had to deal with before. So Mom put me in the Christian school down the street. She didn’t want me to “get religion,” she said. She just wanted me to be safe.
I’d never gone to church or to a Christian school, and I was afraid no one would like me. But you made me feel welcome the moment I walked into Mrs. Moore’s fourth grade classroom. You had blonde curly hair, blue eyes, and a pretty new dress–-and I was so plain, with straight brown hair, brown eyes, and last year’s clothes. But you smiled at me as if we were already friends, and said,
“Hi! I’m Sarah! You’re new, aren’t you? We’re glad you’re here!”
Not everyone liked me right away, of course; but you were the pastor’s daughter, and no one made fun of me when you were there. Even Cindy, who often said mean things, wouldn’t call me a “heathen” in front of you.
Just having you for a friend helped me get through the first few months, but I’ll never forget what happened at Christmas. It changed my life.
A few days before Christmas break, I spent my allowance to buy you a card and a five-dollar gift certificate from your favorite store at the mall. On the front of the card was a glittery Christmas tree, with Have a Very Merry Xmas! written in bright red letters above it.
I brought the card to school the next day, and planned to give it to you at lunch. But that morning, Mrs. Moore lectured us about the godless people who wanted to take Christ out of Christmas. She said they had made it into a crass, commercial holiday, and because they didn’t want to remember the real reason for the season, they said “Merry Xmas” instead of “Merry Christmas.”
I wanted to burst into tears or crawl under my desk and stay there. I didn’t want to give you the card at lunch, but you noticed that something was wrong. Choking back tears, I told you that I had a present for you, but you wouldn’t like it.
“Of course I’ll like it!” you said.
I watched you open the card. You didn’t look shocked or surprised when you saw it, you just hugged me and thanked me. And that wasn’t all.
You got some tape from the art supply cabinet and taped the card to the front of your desk. Cindy came over and sneered,
“Who gave you that?”
But you smiled and said proudly,
“Lorie–-Lorie, my best friend.”
People made fun of the card all day, but you smiled as if to say it didn’t matter. Mrs. Moore didn’t say anything, but she looked embarrassed.
The next day, she told the class that she had been wrong. She’d done some research, and learned that “Xmas” had been used as an abbreviation for Christmas for hundreds of years. In the Greek, she said, the first letter of "Christ" is “chi,” written as “X.” You grinned at me, and everyone was nice to me the rest of the day. Even Cindy apologized.
You were there the day I accepted Christ. You were there when I was baptized, and when my Mom was baptized several months later. But maybe you never realized that I first began to understand Christ on the day I gave you a Christmas card.
Thank you again for being a real friend to me. Have a very merry Christmas!
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