“Baking Christmas cookies!” “Our big tree!” “My favorite part of Christmas is the presents!” My first-graders and I were discussing what we liked most about the holidays. “How about you, Bradley?” I asked. He hadn’t said a word. Bradley just shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t believe in Santa Claus and I don’t believe in Christmas.”
The room went quiet. I didn’t know what to say. I’d never heard anything so sad. And I’d only made it worse by putting him on the spot.
While the children packed up their desks for Christmas break, Bradley’s comment hung in my mind.
What would make a little boy give up on Christmas? I knew Bradley lived in a rough part of town. His single mother worked to try to make ends meet. As the “man of the house” Bradley had to take on many adult responsibilities, including caring for his younger brother. He often seemed tired—too tired for a first-grader. Somewhere along the way Bradley stopped believing that Christmas was for boys like him.
I sent the children home to get on with their celebrations and watched Bradley leave the room. Lord, won’t you do something special for his Christmas this year?
The next day I still couldn’t get Bradley off my mind. I phoned my friend Lucille, who was president of the PTA. If there was anyone who’d understand, it was her.
“We can’t fix everything,” Lucille said. “But we can do something.”
Even for a little boy like Bradley? I wondered. He stayed in my prayers the rest of the break.
School resumed the Monday after New Year’s. One by one, I asked the kids about their Christmas. I skipped Bradley. Why add insult to injury?
“You skipped me!” he shouted.
“Well, I know you don’t believe in Christmas,” I said.
“Now I do!” he said. “We came home after grocery shopping and found a huge wreath on our door. I thought we were at the wrong apartment, but it was my door. And when I opened it, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Santa had been there! He put up a tree that touched the ceiling. With presents!” Bradley jumped up and spread his arms wide: “He left a card that said Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And he signed his name.” The kids cheered.
At the end of the school day, I ran into Lucille in the hallway. “Bradley had quite an exciting Christmas. I thought you might have had something to do with it.”
“What makes you think it wasn’t Santa himself?” she asked.
“I have a feeling it was an angel.”
Lucille grinned. She and the PTA had turned Bradley’s modest apartment into a Christmas wonderland. Bradley saw that the magic of Christmas belongs to every child, thanks to that child who was born in a manger, bringing hope to the whole world.
Read more stories about heavenly angels and angels on earth.