I wasn’t expecting to be writing this tonight. I thought I would be posting another kids’ Christmas craft or a holiday recipe. I have pictures of our recent projects edited and ready to share, but something happened today that stopped me in my tracks.
It was just another busy Tuesday. I dropped Snuggle Puppy off at school and three of the kids went to piano lessons so that left a small window of time that I had only Dancing Queen with me. She has grown a ton in recent months and outgrown her pants so I headed to the mall with her to buy some replacements. Right by the store we needed to go into was Santa and there was no line-up to see him.
She begged me to let her go tell Santa what she wanted for Christmas. I hesitated because we needed to hurry and because I knew I wouldn’t be buying the photo package. Then I gave my head a shake and said “of course” because I knew that at 9 years old, this might well be the last year she asks me to sit on Santa’s knee. I know better than most how quickly the time goes.
She ran up and sat with Santa. I turned to ask the attendant if I was allowed to take a picture with my cell phone and that’s when I heard it.
“What I want for Christmas is to hear.”
I wasn’t prepared for it. I wasn’t expecting it. It caught me off guard and I burst into tears. You see, our daughter has progressive hearing loss. There is nothing we can do to stop it.
As parents, we want to make life easier for our kids. We want to take away the things that stack the odds against them. We want to protect them from hurts. When something is hurting our child, we want to swoop in and fix it. But some things can’t be fixed.
Our daughter is losing her hearing. This same sweet girl has already lost her first father, her first mom, her oldest brother, her first language, her country of birth, and much of her culture. I want to scream “hasn’t she lost enough?!” I still can’t believe that she is losing her hearing too.
I can’t fix it. There is nothing within my power that can grant her Christmas wish. Even if I had more money and more connections, it is a gift that cannot be purchased at any store. And it’s the only thing she wants.
What can I tell her, this girl who still believes that wishes come true? What do I tell her brother who has been praying every night for months for his sister’s hearing to be restored?
I don’t want them to stop believing in miracles because miracles do happen. I have seen miracles. With God, nothing is impossible. Nothing. And yet, I am afraid that if I continue to let them pray for this particular miracle, their faith will be shattered. It’s complicated and I don’t know if I’m walking the tightrope between reality and hope properly.
So how do you cope when you can’t make your child’s Christmas wish come true? I’m not talking about a wish for a high priced toy. I’m the kind of mom who has no problem saying no to wants like the newest or coolest gadget or gizmo, but what happens when what your child wants is something you wish you could give them but can’t?
I have a friend whose husband works out of town. Their youngest daughter’s Christmas wish this year is for a new job for her daddy so that he can be home.
What about the child who prays that their parents’ marriage will be restored? The child whose wish is for grandpa to be with them for one more Christmas? The child who ask Santa for mommy’s cancer to go away?
What about the parents who can’t afford to give their children even the most basic of necessities at Christmas or any other time of year?
I don’t have an answer for any of those wishes. I don’t even know how to respond to my daughter. The Santa today said it best. I didn’t hear his response to my daughter, but I asked her later what he had said and she said, “that would be hard to do and I’m not sure if I can but I will try my best.”
When my daughter hopped off Santa’s lap and turned to say “thank you” to him, he SIGNED “thank you” in response. The kindness of that Santa gives me hope. It reminds me that even though I don’t have all the answers, kindness matters and so does truth.
So I tell my daughter that I hope for a miracle for her hearing and we won’t give up believing that God could heal her, but that there is also a chance that this wish may not come true. But that with or without her hearing, she is immensely loved.