Whether you're a kid or not, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, you know what it's like to wish very hard for something. That something is in the front or in the back of your mind all day long, popping periodically into the foreground, and you can't let it go. You notice it everywhere, and you talk about it constantly.
Well, such a wish came true last evening for 11-year-old Jay, and his friends were there to see it. Jay's wish wasn't a big deal and it didn't cost a lot of money. He wished for his parents to put some Christmas lights up on the outside of their house. "Our house never looks like Christmas!" he complained. "Do you put up a tree?" he was asked. "Yes," he replied, not all that thrilled. "Do you decorate the inside of your house?" Again, "Yes." But Jay added, "Nobody can see it, though. I want people to drive past our house and see our decorations. I want it to look like Christmas." Okay, there's the nut of the matter. Christmas that people can see is what's important to him.
While this conversation was going on, Jay and his friends were driving around looking at attractive Christmas displays in various neighborhoods, and it seemed as though the sight of the other families' lights was only increasing his resolve that his house wasn't up to snuff. "Are there spare decorations in your house?" his friends asked him. "Could you ask your parents whether you would be allowed to use them to decorate your house?" It was evident that the wheels were turning inside Jay's head - his big brown eyes wrote the inner workings of his brain in bold red letters. "Maybe," Jay responded.
It was getting late and the Christmas light joyride was coming to a close. Jay never let up on his expectation of visible Christmas spirit. Then his friends drove down his street, passed the screen of evergreens and turned into his driveway. "Hey!" Jay exclaimed.
While Jay was gone from his house his Dad had strung lights all along the garage and porch of his house. A big "Season's Greetings" now was projected on the front wall of Jay's home. Jay's dad peeked out the front door, phone in hand, ready to capture Jay's Christmas surprise. As Jay leaped out of the car door his dad emerged from the house, grinning. "Wow! Dad! You put up all of these lights! I didn't know you were going to do that! It looks awesome!" Jay continued to chatter, leaping into the air before tackling his dad with a bear hug. And his friends drove away, glad that they had the opportunity to see Jay so overcome with excitement and happiness.
You can see Christmas surprises every evening on TV between Thanksgiving and December 25th. Sometimes the stories are more dramatic than this one, with kids returning from the brink of death to see Santa and then miraculously become healed of an uncurable disease. You read in the newspapers about impoverished children who might not receive a single present that would serve as a sign that someone loves them. But last evening Jay showed his friends the joy of an everyday Christmas surprise that is accessible to everyday people. His wish was no big deal, and had nothing to do with spending a bunch of money. All he wanted was a few Christmas lights. And his dad came through for him. And as a result, Jay's dad will likely have a Christmas that's at least as merry as Jay's will be.