Merry Christmas! The staff here at Great Lakes Radio are sharing our favorite holiday memories or family traditions.
In 1997, I was a single mom with a 3-month old baby and a 3-year-old. I worked one full-time job and two part-time jobs, but money was always tight. Shortly before Christmas that year, my brother came to my new apartment to see us. I mentioned to him that our ratty, old fake Christmas tree disappeared in the move and I wouldn’t be able to replace it by Christmas.
Briana, my 3-year-old, cried because she was afraid Santa Claus wouldn’t be able to find us. Santa knows where we are, we told her. But she thought if we didn’t have a tree to put our angel on, that Santa wouldn’t know we had moved. My big brother Pete told her the elves wouldn’t let Santa miss us, and he just knew they’d find a way to make sure he got to our house.
I came home from work the night before Christmas Eve balancing a sleeping baby in her car seat, a squirming toddler, and a bag of groceries. We made it up the porch steps and Briana started squirming more, her cries muffled by the scarf I’d wrapped her in. There on our porch was a huge Christmas tree! I set her down on the porch and she ran to hug the tree.
A live Christmas tree stood on the porch with a tree stand, lights, and several boxes of ornaments. On that tree, was an envelope from The North Pole addressed to Briana and one jingle bell. I put the baby down inside and struggled to pull the tree into our living room. Briana carried the boxes of lights and ornaments inside and set them down, clapping her hands when I finally managed to get the tree into the stand.
I barely managed to get Briana’s winter clothes off and get the baby settled in her swing, before Briana put the envelope in my hands and begged me to read it. A sweet elf from the North Pole named Jingles wrote that he heard Briana was sad because she didn’t have a Christmas tree to put an angel on. He went on to say he delivered a freshly cut Christmas tree for us to decorate so Santa could find us. The letter was signed, Jingles the Elf.
After reading the letter aloud, my brother and sister-in-law (they were Jingles if you hadn’t already guessed it) came over to see the girls. They marveled at the beautiful Christmas tree and helped put the lights and decorations on it. Briana excitedly told them how the little elf came all the way from the North Pole to make her Christmas wish come true. My brother and his wife listened to her, telling her how special she must be to be friends with an elf! I put my groceries away with tears in my eyes.
As my daughters grew, Jingles the Elf became our family tradition. He left many letters and goodies under our tree. The original jingle bell he left for my daughter in 1997 gets hung on our tree every year, along with the little angel we used to use as a tree topper (all our trees were tiny before Jingles came around). This Christmas will be my grandson Liam’s very first Christmas and my youngest daughter’s first Christmas on her own. It looks like Jingles the Elf will be busier than ever making Christmas magic this year!