The story was submitted to St. George News by Kathryn Naron as a part of a call to readers to share their own stories of Christmas miracles with us. Kathryn Naron’s views are her own and not necessarily those of St. George News.
Even Santa knows Christmas is all about families: The Porter Family’s First Christmas in Utah
The Porter family moved to St. George, Utah from San Diego, Calif., in 1980. After selling all of their possessions to purchase a 17-foot travel trailer to live in, they rolled into town with five small children.
That was the beginning of our family’s history in Utah.
We imagined ourselves as pioneers coming to the desert. The travel trailer, housing seven of us, certainly lent itself to that illusion. And life was certainly hard in the beginning, just like the pioneers.
We arrived flat broke and work could not be found. So, my husband, Roy, went back to California to work. I was left alone with the children as our first Christmas approached. There would be no Christmas for us. No presents. No tree. No holiday cheer – or so it seemed.
One day, I was crying in my soup over the sadness of it all, and the children were frantically worried that Santa would not be able to find us. All that is, but the oldest daughter, Korey, who had enough faith to sustain the world.
The day school let out for Christmas break, and Korey came home dragging a huge bare branch. I watched with puzzlement as she found a large container and filled it with dirt, then crammed the branch into until it stood on its own. She gathered her four younger sisters and a box filled with “hair doodads.”
I was told to close my eyes and not to peek.
After 20 minutes, the girls escorted me outside to proudly show off the most amazing masterpiece of Christmas décor I have ever seen. It took my breath away and filled my eyes with tears. That bare branch had been lovingly and fastidiously decorated with pink sponge rollers, plastic barrettes, assorted colors of yarn hair ribbon and a couple of big mangled bows. It was just so pitiful and lovely all at the same time. The girls were certainly proud of it.
“Now Santa can find us,” they declared.
I knew there would be no presents to put under the tree, but how can one deny the faith of such beautiful children. They seemed to understand something I did not.
Christmas morning arrived with all of us crammed inside the trailer. I awoke to find the girls staring out the windows at the tree. No one was breathing for fear of frosting up the windows. What on earth could they be looking at?
As I sat up, I heard one of the girls reverently whisper, “Santa brought him.”
The rest of the children nodded but did not dare move. Slowly, the door handle turned and, to my amazement, in walked their daddy. All bedlam broke loose with squeals of delight. Without a phone, there was no way Roy could have told us that he would be home to spend Christmas with the family.
I learned two valuable lessons that first Christmas in Utah.
First, there can be exquisite joy in the smallest of things, especially a scraggly tree decorated with love.
Second, Christmas is all about families, and even Santa knows that!