MENOMINEE - She came from a difficult family situation, both economically and socially. She was the kind of child who, most of the times, would suffer in silence. However, there were instances when her struggles were as easily read as a newspaper. Through her facial expressions, the adults that she worked with at school took notice of these struggles.
One staff member made it a specific point in helping her. There were rare times when she would talk to this adult between classes. These talks revealed a small snapshot of strife at her home. During one of these times, around Christmas, she opened up and told him of a specific little doll that she had wanted for years.
The next week, this little girl attended a Christmas gift program sponsored by a local organization. This program purchased gifts for children whose parents were in financial difficulties. That day, Santa was there giving wrapped presents to all of the children. She arrived a little late and was close to the end of the line. She waited patiently, but it seemed like hours to her.
Finally, she was standing in front of Santa. In Santa's hands was a beautifully wrapped present. Her eyes drifted back and forth with a questioning look from the present to Santa's face. His face looked familiar and then not. Santa broke her concentration with a huge "Ho, Ho, Ho!" As he gave her the present, he bent his head close to hers and said softly, "Merry Christmas."
The weight of the present in her hand deflected her attention from Santa. As she quickly tore open the paper, she began to cry because in her hands was the little doll that she had wanted for years. She flew into Santa's arms and thanked him so many times. Then, as she stepped away from Santa, she noticed that he had a slight tear in his eyes. This lasted but a moment and Santa was off with other children.
So, during this holiday season, let us all commit ourselves to make a difference in others' lives. Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season.
A very Merry Christmas from the Paul family to all.
Dan Paul is the administrator at Menominee Catholic Central Elementary School. His columns, which explore family relationships, are published monthly in Lifestyles.