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Mysterious Ways: Merry Christmas to All

Sixty kids and only forty gifts. It seemed like only Santa could help.

A young boy watches a Christmas toy train.
Credit: Getty Images

Every December our Candlewood Lions Club throws a Christmas party at a local firehouse for the special needs children of Green Chimneys, a residential school. It’s a blast! 

I dress like an elf and help Santa pass out presents to the kids. There’s also a magician, a lunch buffet, even a tour of the firehouse. But driving there last year, I was in a panic. We had exactly 40 presents to give–enough for the children we usually expected. Not enough for the 60 we’d just heard would be coming. Too bad the real Santa Claus wasn’t around.

It’s too late to buy more, I thought. The kids will be here soon! For some, those were the only gifts they’d receive all season. Lord, what are we supposed to do now?

Dejected, my husband and I parked the car and walked up the hill to the firehouse. Another man got out of his car at the same time and walked alongside us. When we got to the front door, he looked confused. “Isn’t the vote here today?” he asked us. I knew there was a special referendum up for a vote–but it wasn’t being held here.

“Not at this firehouse. We have a Christmas party today,” I answered. The man shook his head. “I don’t know why I thought it was here,” he said. He looked at us. “If you’re here for a party, why the long faces?”

I told him our problem, even if I was a bit too worried to chit-chat. How could we send a child home without a present?

“How many toys you need?” the man asked. “I may be able to help.” How?

With minutes to spare before the children arrived, the man burst through the door, his arms overflowing with bags of toys. Hurriedly, we piled them on tables and covered them with tablecloths awaiting the moment when our Santa would reveal the gifts. The children were ecstatic. One girl picked an Easy Bake Oven, something she’d wanted for years. “This is the best Christmas ever!” rang throughout the room.

We needed a Santa Claus. We were sent Major Tom Quigley–of the local Marine Toys for Tots program, who had already collected all the presents we needed to give the kids an unforgettable Christmas.

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