It was December 23rd. My children and I lived in a teeny, miniature house. Being a single mom, going to college, and supporting my children completely alone, Christmas was looking bleak. I looked around me, realization dawning like a slow, twisting pain. We were poor.

Our tiny house had two bedrooms, both off the living room. They were so small that my baby daughter's crib barely fit into one room, and my son's twin bed and dresser into the other. There was no way they could share a room, so I made my bed every night on the living room floor. The three of us shared the only closet in the house. We were snug, always only a few feet from each other - day and night. With no doors on the children's rooms, I could see and hear them at all times. It made them feel secure and made me feel close to them - a blessing I would not have had in other circumstances. It was late, almost eleven. The snow was falling softly, silently. I was wrapped in a blanket, sitting at the window to watch the powdery flakes flutter in the moonlight, when my front door vibrated with a pounding fist. Alarmed, I wondered who would be at my home so late on this snowy winter night. I opened the door to find several strangers ginning from ear to ear, their arms laden with boxes and bags.

Confused, but finding their joyous spirit contagious, I grinned right back "Are you Susan?" The man stepped forward as he sort of pushed a box at me. Nodding stupidly, unable to find my voice, I was sure they thought I was mentally deficient. "These are for you." The woman thrust another box at me with a huge, beaming smile. The porch light and the snow falling behind her cast a glow on her dark hair, lending her an angelic appearance. I looked down into her box. It was filled to the top with treats, a fat turkey, and all the makings of a traditional Christmas dinner. My eyes filled with tears as the realization of what they were there for washed over me.

Finally coming to my senses, I found my voice and invited them in. Following the husband were two children, staggering with the weight of their packages. The family introduced themselves to me, and told me their packages were all gifts for my little family. This wonderful, beautiful family, who were total strangers to me, somehow knew exactly what we needed. They brought wrapped gifts for each of us, a full buffet for me to make on Christmas day, and many "extras" that I could never afford. Visions of a beautiful, "normal" Christmas literally danced in my head. Somehow my secret wish for Christmas was materializing right in front of me. The desperate prayers of a mother alone were heard, and I knew right then that He had sent His angels my way. My mysterious angels then handed me a white envelope, gave me another round of grins, and each of them hugged me. They wished me a Merry Christmas and disappeared into the night as suddenly as they had appeared. What felt like slow-motion time was over in probably less than a couple of minutes.

Amazed and deeply touched, I looked around me at the boxes and gifts strewn at my feet and felt the ache of depression suddenly being transformed into a childlike joy. I began to cry. I cried hard, sobbing tears of the deepest gratitude. A great sense of peace filled me. The knowledge of God's love reaching into my tiny corner of the world enveloped me like a warm quilt. My heart was full. I hit my knees amid all the boxes and offered a heartfelt prayer of thanks. Getting to my feet, I wrapped myself in my blanket and sat once again to gaze out the window at the gently falling snow. Suddenly I remembered the envelope. Like a child I ripped it open and gasped at what I saw. A shower of bills flitted to the floor. Gathering them up, I began to count the five, ten, and twenty-dollar bills. My vision blurred with tears, I counted the money, then counted it again to make sure I had it right. Sobbing again, I said it out loud. "One hundred dollars."

Even though my "angels" had showered me with gifts, they had somehow understood how desperately money was needed. There was no way they could have known it, but I had just received a disconnect notice from the gas company. I simply didn't have the money needed and feared my family would be without heat by Christmas. The envelope of cash would give us warmth and a tree for Christmas. Suddenly, we had all we needed and more. I looked at my children sleeping soundly, and through my tears I smiled the first happy, free-of-worry smile in a long, long time. My smile turned into a grin as I thought about tomorrow. Christmas Eve. One visit from complete strangers had magically turned a painful day into a special one that we would always remember. With happiness.

It is now several years since our Christmas angels visited. I have since remarried, and we are happy and richly blessed. Every year since that Christmas in 1993, we choose a family less blessed than we are. We bring them carefully selected gifts, food and treats, and as much money as we can spare. It's our way of passing on what was given to us. It is the "Ripple Effect" in motion. We hope that the cycle continues and that some day, the families that we share with will also pass it on.

Wherever my angels are, I thank you. And so do many other families. Without knowing it, you have touched many lives.

 

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