“May I open it?” Rachel* could hardly contain her excitement as she watched Mom turn the white envelope over in her hand. Rachel was often allowed to help open the mail.
Mom smiled and handed her the letter. “I’m afraid it will never make it in time at this late date. I wonder how it ever came to be in our mailbox?” Rachel wasn’t sure what her mother meant.
Taking the envelope, she slit it open carefully so as not to disturb the New Hampshire return address. Mom took the letter and read it silently. Rachel could see tears in her mother’s eyes.
“Is it sad, Mom?” Rachel felt her own eyes start to sting.
Mom gave the letter back to her. “Why don’t you read it aloud?”
Rachel was just learning to read cursive. Slowly she began.
“‘Dear Santa,’”—Rachel paused—“Mom, is this what you meant when you said it wouldn’t make it?”
“Yes, Rachel. It’s already December 22. I want you to know that as I held the letter, my first thought was to return it to the post office, but the Holy Ghost whispered to me that I should open it.”
Rachel continued to read: “‘I am a single mother on welfare. I have one child, a boy, four years old. I can’t afford to buy him Christmas presents. Will you please help me? He is in need of clothes and shoes. His shoe size is 9 1/2, and in clothing, he is a 4 or 5. He also needs a winter coat, gloves, boots, and socks.
P. S. A toy or two would be nice. Thank you.’”
Rachel set the letter down and threw her arms around her mother. They were both silent for a moment.
“We have to help them,” Rachel said finally.
“I know,” Mom agreed. “I noticed a return address—534 Pilgrim Street, Salem, New Hampshire. That’s a long way from southern Utah. How did it ever get here?” Mom stopped. “Rachel! Look at this. The letter is addressed to Santa, in care of The North Pole 84745. That’s our zip code!”
Rachel stared at the envelope. “Did you notice that she didn’t ask for anything for herself?”
Mom put an arm around her. “How would you like to play Santa this year?”
“Oh yes! Do you think we have enough time? There are only three days until Christmas.”
“I have an idea.” Mom walked over to the phone and punched in a number. “Hello. This is Sister Marjorie Banks. Would you please connect me with the Missionary Department?” Rachel waited quietly. “I was wondering if you could give me the name and telephone number of the New Hampshire Mission president. It’s important that I get in touch with him right away. Thank you. I’ll hold.”
Mom picked up the letter from the table and wrote quickly on the back as the information was given to her.
“Well, young lady,” Mom exclaimed as she hung up the telephone a second time, “we have our work cut out for us! President Hafen of the New Hampshire Manchester Mission will help us locate Salina and her son. If we can get a package together and send it by overnight mail to the mission home, he will see that it is delivered.”
They canceled all their plans for the day. Rachel even gave up the afternoon she had planned with her best friend.
Together Mom and Rachel bought some nice clothes and shoes for the little boy. Mom got a gift certificate from a nationwide clothing store for the mother. Rachel’s little brother, Alma, gave up one of his favorite toys for the package. Tucked inside two bright-red, fur-trimmed stockings were several pieces of Mom’s wonderful Christmas candy. After a trip to the local bookstore and toy outlet, the package was almost complete.
“Rachel,” Mom said as she wrote the address of the mission home on the package, “do you think you could write your testimony on this stationery? I’ll glue it to the inside cover of the scripture reader we bought for the little boy.”
Rachel took the stationery and wrote in her best cursive:
I know you don’t know me. I am a little older than you. I am going to be eight in just one month. This is a special age for me, for I will be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You probably don’t know much about my church, but I love it! I want you to know that I love Jesus and Heavenly Father. They are always there to look out for me. I know that They love you, too, and will keep you safe. Merry Christmas!
Rachel watched as her mother tucked her own testimony into a Book of Mormon for Salina.
“Mom,” she said quietly. “Do you think they will understand how much we love the gospel?”
“There’s really no way of knowing,” Mom said, giving Rachel a big hug. “Perhaps if they feel the love of someone who sincerely cares, they will accept the truth when it is presented to them. Now, what do you say we get this in the mail?”
Two days after Christmas, the mission president in New Hampshire called.
“Sister Banks? This is President Hafen. I wanted to let you know. …” President Hafen said that the package had been delivered by two fine young missionaries on Christmas Eve. When the young mother saw what was in the box, she was overcome with gratitude. Tears of joy streamed down her face. The box was the only Christmas gift she would have, but at least now she had something to share with her small son.
President Hafen went on to say that it was a very touching moment for the elders. They asked if they could call on her after the holidays, and she gladly said yes. The mission president added that the woman was very grateful and wanted to express her thanks for the nicest thing that had ever happened to her.
“And let me thank you, too,” President Hafen told her, “for making this one of the most memorable Christmases we have ever had.”
Mom hung up the phone and wiped her eyes.
“Do you think she will join the Church?” Rachel asked.
“I don’t know,” Mom replied. “But I do feel that the Lord had a hand in that letter coming to our mailbox.”
Rachel beamed. “This is the best Christmas I’ve ever had!”
“Me, too,” Mom said, gathering her daughter into her arms. “Me, too.”
“If the Savior were among us in mortality today, He would be found ministering to the needy, the suffering, the sick. …
“The Savior, who set the pattern for us, is pleased with those who ‘remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted’ (D&C 52:40).”
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
(Ensign, May 1999, pages 78, 79.)