“As a parent, you always wonder if you are doing right by your child. The mother in me wonders constantly about what kind of person they will be. Will they be loving? Will they be kind? My husband and I have always tried to teach our two children, Barrett (7) and Bristol (4), to love everyone, but at such a young age, it can be tricky to know just how much they are picking up on. Are we really making that much of a difference? Who really knows?
Both children are caring and have huge hearts, but Barrett’s love and desire to do things for others has become very apparent. There is no doubt acts of service is his love language. He was 2 and a half when his sister Bristol was born. From the minute he saw her, he became protector and caregiver. He wanted to feed her, bathe her, and be sure she was wrapped in her favorite blanket. As they have gotten older, the dynamic between them has changed a little. Now, he wants to include her in everything. If he gets invited to a birthday party, he wants her there. He was once hesitant to attend a Bible school before Bristol was old enough to attend. In his mind, it wasn’t fair he would get to go have fun and she wouldn’t get to do anything special that day. It’s just how he has always been, always looking out for everyone else. When he prays, he always prays for others and never anything for himself. He just loves really BIG!
One evening, during our busy weeknight routine, Barrett insisted on writing a letter to Santa. This is not really something we have done in the past, as he is just now learning to read and write. Past traditions included going to see Santa, having Christmas pictures made, and leaving cookies and milk out with a note. We also have two elves, Everette and Ellie Mae, who enhance the holiday season immediately upon their arrival. That night it was after 7 p.m. when we arrived home from a t-ball game. I was trying to cook dinner and still needed to feed and bathe both children and have them in bed by 8:30. Barrett was persistent! He continued to ask about writing a letter to Santa. At the time, I couldn’t really stop what I was doing, so I quickly handed him a paper and pencil and sent him on his way. He came into the kitchen several times, asking about the spelling of certain words. When I offered to help, he quickly replied, ‘No, Mom! You cannot see my letter. There is something about you.’ This sparked my curiosity! What in the world would he ask Santa to bring me?
Soon, Bristol heard what was going on and wanted to write her own letter. She is only 4, so I would definitely need to stop and help her. Dinner was burning, timers were going off, and I was scrambling. My husband was out of town and I was being pulled in about ten different directions. I heard Barrett tell Bristol to come to his room and he would help her write her letter. I immediately thought how sweet it was they were doing it together. A few minutes later, my house seemed unusually quiet. If you are a parent, you know this can be a dangerous sign. I went back to his room to check on them. They each quickly covered their paper and told me to leave. Now I was really curious!
When dinner was finally ready, Barrett proudly entered the kitchen and handed me two sealed envelopes. He gave strict instructions I was not to open the letters, just mail them to the North Pole tomorrow morning. Bristol was smiling so big. I could tell she was excited about the letters. She explained she was having a little trouble writing, so Barrett wrote it for her, and she signed her name at the bottom. Again, my heart is exploding with how sweet they are. They really are best friends and I hope it always stays this way.
Soon after, they were off to bed and I was alone. I thought about the letters a few times but was busy cleaning the kitchen, making lunches, and laying out clothes, masks, and water bottles for the next day. When the kids handed the letters over, I had stacked them over on the kitchen counter next to the mail I had yet to open. When I was done with my nightly duties, I crashed and completely forgot about the letters.
The next morning after getting the kids to school, I grabbed the mail off the counter and sat down to pay bills. You know, so much fun! My phone rang and it was an old friend, so I was distracted from the task at hand. I looked up and saw Barrett’s letter propped up against the backsplash right by the sink. He had moved it! This was his way of making sure I did not forget to mail his letter. I grabbed the letter and then sat there, torn for a minute. Should I really open it? Would it be wrong? He asked me not to several times. What in the world could be in here about me? I really needed to see what he wants for Christmas, right? I couldn’t help myself, and as I unfolded the letter, to my surprise, there was only one sentence. ‘Dear Santa, I really want my mom to have a good life and my dad.’
My heart SUNK. I immediately started to cry. My friend on the phone was asking what was wrong and I couldn’t get any words out. I mean how? Why? What child would ask for that and that only? I was expecting a bicycle or a toy, anything! Something for himself on Christmas morning! But no! One sentence to Santa, and it was for me and my husband to have a good life. I cried for at least 10 minutes, thankful for his big, precious heart. I laid the letter down, coming back to look at it over and over again.
My mind started to wonder. Does he think we don’t have a good life? I had so many questions I couldn’t ask because I wasn’t supposed to open the letter. I then remembered Bristol’s letter. Barrett had written the exact same thing for her, and she signed her name to it. Now my heart was really overwhelmed. She might not have written it, but she knew what it said and was okay with this being her letter, too. Not one toy listed for either of them. As I sat there with the matching letters, I thought about how great my life already is. My husband and I are so incredibly blessed to have these beautiful, loving, and kind children. It was a reminder I desperately needed.
During this year, during this pandemic, life has been so crazy. We have all felt so confused about what is next and when this will all be over. However, the one thing I know for sure is we have to hold on tight and love big to those around us. It’s the only way we get through the hard times. We also need to remember in times of uncertainty, we must be stronger for our children. They are depending on us.
Children are precious. They are born with big, kind hearts. My husband and I don’t have this parenting thing completely figured out, but we do our best to teach them to be kind and love everyone no matter what. Reading their letters to Santa gave me some peace – maybe some of these teachings are sinking in. I want them to love like Jesus. I want them to treat others how they wish to be treated. I pray for them to have a light that shines in everything they do. I am still beside myself when I think about their letters. I can’t tell them now, but one day they will know because of their sweet, kind hearts, their Christmas wish to Santa has already been granted.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cristen of Arkansas. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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