When my daughter Pam was in high school, her best friend Julie cared for a four-year-old girl who was totally deaf. They communicated through signing, drawing and playing games.
Christmas came, and Rachel, the four-year-old, begged to go see Santa. Obligingly, Pam and Julie got her dressed in her finest outfit and set out for a nearby Atlanta shopping mall. The line was long, the mood was festive and all was well.
But as they neared the big man himself, Rachel began to have second thoughts. He was, after all, pretty big and thoroughly scary. The closer they came, the tighter she held on, burying her face in Julie's scarf and only occasionally peeking out. They got closer to their turn, Rachel's anxiety built. Every other parent or child-bringer in line began to despair as the situation became clear: it had been a good idea, but Rachel's fears were overcoming all hope. Pam and Julie were about to give up by the time they neared their first place.
But a miracle happened. Just as Rachel took one last, terrified peek, Santa smiled his crinkly smile at her...... and signed I love you.
There was not a dry eye in the line, and there's not been a Santa photo in Rachel's family ever to match the one that Julie took that day. They had picked the only Santa in Metropolitan Atlanta who happened to know sign language.
Sometimes the memory of a little wonder, in this day of harsh reality but time of wonder, still works.
Causes Fran Johns Supports
Compassion & Choices of N.CA
San Francisco Interfaith Council