The Snowsantas Find The Christmas Spirit
Father Steve trudged down Holly Street, his clunky shoes leaving deep furrows in the snow. Beside him he dragged a red felt bag holding the Santa costumes worn yesterday. Christmas lights flickered from lampposts and cast a multi-colored pathway guiding him homeward as the wind pelted icy flakes into his cheeks. Like his boot-laden feet, Father Steve's heart carried a heaviness that slowed his stride and stole his Yuletide cheer. For the first time for as long as he could remember, his parish had no Christmas spirit.
They all knew Christmas wasn't about the Santa Clauses they played at the children's party each year. They all knew Christmas wasn't about the number of presents under their trees. They knew, too, Christmas wasn't about the beautiful decorations. Christmas, they knew, was about the birth of Christ. But Jesus wasn't in their church anymore. After the children's Christmas party, someone stole him. Now Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, and the shepherds stared into an empty manger. And Christmas just isn't Christmas when you take away Jesus. That they knew.
They could buy another baby Jesus to replace the one in the manger, but a member had made this one: a soft-sculptured likeness of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. The troublesome question was, why would anyone take it?
Father Steve stopped in front of the Brace house. All the rooms were dark, except for one small nightlight shining from the nursery. The family had adopted a baby girl two weeks ago. A smile tugged at his lips as he remembered six-year-old Joey Brace roaming from craft table to craft table trying to decide on the perfect present for her. The moon glowed over two snowmen. Both had large, round bodies with stick arms, charcoal eyes, and carrot noses, but instead of smiles, there was, well... nothing.
"They look as lifeless as I feel."
He set down the bag and loosened the drawstring, studying the snowmen. One was tall and plump... the other short and plumper.
He pulled out a red velvet Santa hat with a white ball on the end and a coat to match. He rummaged in this bag until he found a Mrs. Santa outfit, pink with large white polka dots.
He pointed to the pink Santa. "I'll name you Dottie." Then he turned to the red one. "And I'll call you Nick."
They looked snazzy in their new togs, but their faces remained expressionless, reflecting his own sad feelings. Father Steve lifted his eyes and prayed aloud.
"Dear God, I thank you for this joyous season and beg your forgiveness for my sorrow. Tomorrow night is Christmas Eve; please send us a miracle: let us find Jesus."
With his finger he drew a large smile on each snowman's face. Then he turned homeward.
A blustery gust whistled through the trees, sending branches swaying and pine needles tinkling like slender ice chimes. A feathery cloud passed in front of the moon. A distant owl called, "Hoot. Hoot."
Suddenly the wind calmed.
Dottie's mouth puckered. "Wh-wh-what's happening to me?"
Nick's bottom did a little shake-shake. "It's happening to me, too."
They faced one another.
"I think we've come to life," said Dottie.
"Just like the snowman in the story."
They both giggled.
Nick's body lifted. "Look, I'm floating!"
"And our arms move," added Dottie as she rose beside him.
"We must be the miracle Father Steve prayed for."
"You think God can use snowmen for a miracle?" asked Dottie.
"God can use anything He wants." Nick's black eyes sparkled. "We're not snowmen any more. We're Snowsantas!"
Nick nodded. "We have snowmen bodies, but we're dressed like Santas." Nick placed a snowy finger to his snowy chin. "Everyone knows Santa for the gifts he brings."
"We're supposed to give baby Jesus back to Father Steve?" Dottie threw a mittened hand over her mouth. "How are we ever going to do that?"
"We'll hunt for clues!"
They sailed through the night, peering through windows into houses and searching among the shrubs. They thrashed through bushes and poked behind trees. They shimmied high and hunkered low.
But they didn't find one clue.
They visited the shops on Main Street, picking through Christmas displays and skulking through back-alley, gargantuan-sized dumpsters.
But they still didn't find one clue.
"Let's go to the church," said Dottie.
Soon they arrived at the Nativity scene.
The three Wise Men bent their heads and presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Shepherds stood beside their sheep. Joseph and Mary stared at the manger, but Jesus was gone. Nick floated closer.
"What do you see?" asked Dottie.
He sighed and removed a piece of cloth from a sharp nail inside the manger. "Just this small patch of blue and white plaid wool."
The rising sun reflected off Dottie's charcoal eyes. "Today is Christmas Eve." She bowed her head. "And we didn't find Jesus."
Nick placed the scrap of material in the manger and they returned to the Brace house.
A flurry of activities filled the neighborhood. Fathers carried in firewood; mothers prepared Christmas dinners. Children were extra helpful because tonight was extra special.
Suddenly Joey Brace burst outside. Dottie's eyes widened and Nick's mouth formed a perfect "o." Joey wore his warmest coat, mittens, and a blue and white plaid scarf with a piece missing.
He tiptoed to the garage and pulled out baby Jesus. Then he tucked the doll back into its hiding place.
Dottie and Nick looked at each other. Icy teardrops rolled down their cheeks: they knew what they had to do.
They floated to the church. Nick wrote two words in the snow beside the manger. Dottie made a snowball and hurled it against Father Steve's office window.
He came outside and a movement caught his eye. He walked to the manger and read: Joey Brace. With a heavy heart, he went to the Braces'.
Standing on their porch, he prayed for the right words before he knocked.
Joey opened the door. "Hi!"
Father Steve swallowed hard. "We need to talk."
Joey's face scrunched in confusion.
"About the missing baby Jesus."
Joey put a finger to his lips and closed the door behind him. "Can you keep a secret?" A large grin spread across his face. "I took him after the party yesterday."
"Why would you take the baby Jesus?" asked Father Steve.
"You told me to."
"Because I told you to?"
Joey nodded. "I asked what was the best gift to give to my new sister."
"And I pointed to the doll and said, 'Jesus.'" Father Steve knelt down. "That is the best gift, but that Jesus is just a doll, just like the sheep aren't real sheep."
Now Joey looked sad. "Then I'm not giving my sister Jesus?"
He placed his hand over Joey's heart. "This is where He lives. By sharing stories of Jesus and His love, you'll be giving her the best gift ever... not just at Christmas, but all through the year."
"Then I don't need the doll?"
"No, but I need it to remind everyone what Christmas is about."
Father Steve returned to his church to prepare for the Christmas Eve message: Jesus has come!