“When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer...”*
“Can Santa really fly in the sky?” Jody interrupted.
Aunt Jenny paused from reading to respond, “Yes sweetie, with the help of his reindeer, and of course his magic sleigh, Santa can travel all over the world delivering toys.”
Jody contorted her face and deliberated for a moment.
“Can Santa really fly anywhere, Aunt Jenny?”
“Yes sweetie. Ok. It’s getting late; let’s finish this book tomorrow,” she said tucking Jody in and planting a kiss on her forehead. “I’ll tell you what we’ll do. If you get happy faces all week at school, we will go to the mall this Saturday and visit Santa. Would you like that?”
“Can we Aunt Jenny? Oh, can we?”
Aunt Jenny’s eyes filled with tears as she witnessed the first sign of joy in Jody’s face since the accident six months ago.
With a blink of an eye, it was Friday, and Jody was running out of her 2nd grade classroom with 5 smiley faces, grinning from ear to ear.
“I got smiley faces, Aunt Jenny. See! Can we go see Santa now?” Jody asked jumping up and down.
“Wow! We sure will, first thing in the morning.”
“Oh thank you! I love you so much,” Jody said squeezing her with all her might.
Aunt Jenny buried her face in Jody’s red curls, hugging her to hide the tears streaming down her cheeks.
Wake up, Aunt Jenny, wake up! “Jody said shaking her shoulders.
Aunt Jenny squinted open one eye and read the blurry clock. “Its only 6am Jody, and the mall doesn’t open till 9am. Please let me sleep a little longer,” she said pulling the covers over her head.
The magic hour finally arrived and Jody dragged Aunt Jenny at lightning speed to the center of the mall, anxious to get in line to talk to Santa.
The line wrapped around the ice rink and the wait was over an hour. Nonetheless, Jody did not mind, as she stood holding Aunt Jenny’s hand quietly waiting her turn.
“So, what are you going to ask Santa to bring you for Christmas?” Aunt Jenny inquired.
“I can’t tell you, it’s a secret between me and Santa,” Jody whispered.
Children of all ages, shapes, and sizes sat on Santa’s lap divulging their secret hopes and dreams for Christmas. Finally the wait was over and it was Jody’s turn. She gave Aunt Jenny one last look, as her Aunt squeezed her hand for luck. Jody gingerly walked up the steps and smiled at Santa as she timidly sat on his lap.
“And what is your name?” Santa asked.
“Jody,” she answered twirling a red curl.
“How old are you Jody?”
“So what would you like me to bring you for Christmas?”
“My mom and dad.”
Santa looked puzzled and glanced over at Aunt Jenny not sure how to respond to the request.
“You see Santa, my mom and dad were in a car accident. Aunt Jenny says they live in heaven now with Jesus. I know heaven is far away and all, but you have a magic sleigh and reindeer that can fly. Could you please stop in heaven and bring them home? You don’t have to bring me any toys or anything else ever. Please Santa?” Jody pleaded.
“I am sorry Jody, but you can’t get to heaven by way of my sleigh. I know you must miss your parents very much. But Jesus made sure you would be ok; he gave you someone to care for you, right?”
“Yeah, my Aunt Jenny,” Jody answered.
“She will love you and watch you grow into a lovely woman. Then one day, it will be your turn to go to heaven. Right now Jesus needs you down here to help take care of Aunt Jenny. You both need each other right now.”
Jody wrinkled her nose and thought for a long moment.
She glanced over her shoulder and said, “Aunt Jenny let’s go home.”
“Did you hear what I asked Santa?”
“Yes sweetie, I did,” Aunt Jenny answered dabbing her eyes.
“Santa’s right. We need to take care of each other,” Jody nodded.
“I’ll take care of you, if you take care of me, ok Aunt Jenny?”
“That sounds like a wonderful plan sweetie,” she answered as they walked out of the mall hand in hand.
*Excerpt from ‘Twas the Night before Christmas by Clement Moore
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