Just as their candles started to burn ever so brightly, Nick reflected upon his evening and Pastor Bruce’s little story of the familiar Christmas hymn Silent Night. Holding Joy’s little hand in one hand and the bright candle in his other, Nick joined in the song with his fine bass voice blending with the familiar harmonies of this age-old hymn. It’s at this very moment, Nick, or should I say Santa Claus, closed his eyes, and whispered, “God, please encourage us tonight. Give us Your peace. Amen.”
The town hall clock struck midnight, and just like that, the jingle of sleigh bells is heard in the distance. Soon Santa and his famous reindeer will visit every home.
As I said earlier, what really happened that Christmas Eve is something no one is really certain about. Was it a dream, or was it real? Santa claims that it was so real that he’ll never forget it. Mrs. Claus says it’s a miracle. Sam the Elf simply says it just doesn’t matter. So I’ll let you decide.
All I know is that on Christmas morning, Mary and her children, Joey and Sarah, woke up in their duplex, walked into their smoke-free living room, and there it was. A lush green seven-foot pine tree stood by the picture window, decorated with enough lights and ornaments to fill a downtown department store!
Over at the church, the Dodson family pulled into the parking lot around eight-thirty. As Pastor Bruce turned on the sanctuary lights, Carol gasped as she looked at the stage. Directly behind the Advent candles, there was a brand new electronic keyboard. Eighty-eight fully-weighted keys. Just like a real grand piano. To the left was a shiny new drum set with all the bells and whistles. Eight cymbals, two snares, six tom-toms, and two bass drums. To the right, a bright blue electric guitar was leaning up against four large speakers.
In the front pew sat a rather small figure, his head barely showing above the pew. He wore a bright red Santa hat. In his lap he held a brand-new golden-hued six-string bass guitar, nearly as large as the gentleman himself. Joy ran to the front of the sanctuary and was the first to introduce herself to this interesting guest who was over one hour early for the Christmas morning service. As the little man turned to meet the Dodsons, Pastor Bruce saw the kindest grin emanating from a face that was nearly hidden behind a big set of black horn-rimmed glasses.
“Hi. I’m Sam,” the gentleman said. “You must be the Dodson family. Little late this morning, aren’t you Bruce? Well, that’s not important, is it?
Sam, who always talks with his hands, patted his bright green vest from top to bottom, eventually pulling out a bright red envelope. “Say, Bruce.” Sam proclaimed. “I have a note here for you. Don’t want to forget.”
Before Pastor Bruce could say a word, Carol carefully took the note from the gentleman’s hands, opened it and began to read out loud . . .
Dear Pastor Bruce, Carol, Edward, and Joy,
I want to thank you so much for all you’ve given me:
Your warm Iowa hospitality, loving care, and open hearts.
You have reminded me that despite the darkness of the night,
Joy always comes with the morning.
PS . . . I apologize for not being able to fulfill my commitment to play in the band this morning. Hopefully these instruments will encourage you all to make some beautiful music today. I wish I could be there. I’ve asked my friend, Sam, to stand in for me. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine. I’ve taught Sam everything I know about playing bass!
As with most stories about Santa Claus, Christmas, and the North Pole, this story ends well. For this year, you see, Christmas Day was very special indeed at both ends of the planet. Here in Iowa, our little town was so blessed that we were given the unique opportunity to help so many people, especially Nick (or should I say Santa Claus) find once again, the true meaning of Christmas. The Dodson family truly enjoyed this Christmas, and Edward and Joy now look back on it as their best Christmas ever. Not only did the band sound great on their new instruments, but the entire church also had the unique opportunity of having Sam the Elf share his personal testimony of how thankful he was that Santa picked him to step in on this special mission of joy.
Up north, at the other end of the globe, everyone at the North Pole United Elf Church was truly thankful as well. The elves were so appreciative that Christmas happened just as it has for the last two millennia. Mrs. Claus was so blessed that her prayers were answered.
And Santa Claus? Well, Santa was most likely the most thankful of all. Not only had he been reminded of why he does what he does, but for once in a lifetime, he was finally able to play one entire set of Christmas carols with the Northern Lights Gospel Choir without being interrupted by Sam!
Merry Christmas to One and All
From Marty Boller and Our Iowa Heritage.