by Chip Sekulich, TwelveStone Chaplain
Many years have passed since I found out who Santa really was, after which Christmas lost much of its mystery. However, I still believe in the possibility of Christmas miracles.
A Different Time, 51 Years Ago
Christmas of 1967 was a rough time for many families, especially those with loved ones in the military. My dad was one of the nearly half-million service members that would spend Christmas that year in Vietnam. He was an Aviation Gunnery Sergeant stationed in Chu Lai at the Marine Air Base. I remember one evening while we were watching TV and a News Flash came on around 7:00 pm. The commentator simply said, “Chu Lai under heavy mortar attack. Details on the news at 11.”
For the rest of that evening and several days to follow, my mom was fitful and nervous. Though she tried to put on a brave face for us, we knew something was not right. About a week later, having not heard anything, mom kind of returned to normal. While mortar rounds had landed and destroyed a tent not far from where my dad was sheltered, he remained unharmed.
I also remember money was tight that year. There were four growing boys in our family and it was hard for mom to work more than a few hours outside the home. Dad was the primary bread-winner, but even with almost twenty-years’ service, it was tough to make ends meet on a Gunny Sergeant’s pay.
Before the internet, we would go through the Sears Wish Book Christmas catalog, turn the corners of the pages down and circle items on our “wish list.” I remember looking longingly at the bikes, but I knew that was not an option and it would take some kind of miracle for us to get any Christmas presents at all that year.
Even at that young age, I was pretty sure I knew who Santa really was but I didn’t say anything to the younger kids. Deep down inside, I still wanted to believe. We were told the Christmas story at church the Sunday before, so we knew about baby Jesus and the gifts of the Wise Men. But if I’m being honest, Christmas was really about the presents at that time.
Christmas morning finally came! We ran into the living room and seeing several small gifts under the tree, we were glad to know that we would have Christmas presents after all. We tore through the wrapping paper and said thanks, but my heart sank. I didn’t get a single thing on my wish list. Mom waited until we had all opened the last gift and then said, “Wait, I think there is something else. Santa left you one more thing.” We looked at each other and back under the tree, but there was nothing more there. She said, “Maybe you should look downstairs.”
Jumping up, I don’t remember if I hit all the steps on the way down, but when I got downstairs and rounded the corner, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a miracle. There stood a brand new, 26” Black Huffy Camaro bike with my name on it. The tag said, “From Santa!” As for the other brothers, one got a bike, another, a new Fire Engine pedal car with a ladder and bell, and the baby got some kind of little riding toy. It was a miracle!
A few years later, I found out that mom had been squeezing every dime and my dad was keeping just enough to get by and sending the rest of his meager pay home. Their sacrifice paid the price for our Christmas miracle. I have never forgotten that Christmas in 1967, their sacrifice, or its special miracle.
At TwelveStone Health Partners, we still believe in miracles.
The miracle of seeing the quality of life improve for patients with complex chronic conditions like Hemophilia, Cystic Fibrosis, Crohn’s, Asthma and a host of other serious long-term health issues. The miracle of seeing babies and seniors with severe digestive and other nutritional issues develop and gain strength from Enteral Therapy. The miracle of interacting with patients who have experienced real improvement after receiving state of the art Infusion Therapy in the comfort of their own home or in one of our Infusion Suites at TwelveStone.
Two thousand years ago, God gave mankind the ultimate Christmas miracle. He sent His Son Jesus to die in our place to pay for our sin with His blood, and then He arose from the dead so that we could have eternal life. Though Christmas may have lost a lot of its child-like mystery, I still believe that miracles can happen. We see it every day.