Peace on Earth

Her granddaughter had a unique request for Santa, one very much in the spirit of the season.

By Bonita Laettner, Angola, New York

As appeared in

Snow, reindeer, elves–the mall was a veritable winter wonderland. At the center of it all was the perfect Santa with a gentle manner and a real white beard. My six-year-old granddaughter, Leah, hopped nervously from foot to foot as we waited in line for her turn to sit on his lap.

“I don’t know what to say,” Leah said, craning her neck around the kids in front of her.

“Sure you do,” her mother, Leanne, said. “It’s Santa. He’s already your friend. You’ll do just fine.”

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I gave Leah’s hand a reassuring squeeze. “He’ll ask you what you want for Christmas,” I said, “and you just tell him.”

“Right,” said Leah. We’d gone over and over the toys she’d ask for. Her mother didn’t want surprises!

A Chia Pet, Moon Sand and something called Aquadoodle. Leah repeated the list. But a minute later, when she rehearsed again, she inserted new toys she’d just spotted at the mall.

“I’ve got an idea,” said Leanne, digging into her purse as the line inched forward. “Let’s write down your requests so you won’t forget them.”

Leanne printed the list in big block letters. I couldn’t help but laugh. Going to see Santa was such an important appointment for a six-year-old. That’s how it should be, I thought. No child should have any worries bigger than that.

The night before, on the news, I’d seen clips of a village in the Middle East that had come under fire. Many of the wounded were children just like our Leah. “We want no more wars!” one of them had said. If only, I thought.

Looking around the mall full of magical decorations and happy shoppers I felt safe, as safe as anyone could be. Everyone in the world should have that kind of security, especially at Christmas.

“Okay,” Leanne said. “Now you’ve got everything you want written down here. If you get nervous you can just give the note to Santa.”

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Leah nodded and took the list. She read out loud, “A Chia Pet, Moon Sand and Aquadoodle.”

“Why don’t you add a fourth request, Leah,” I heard myself say. “Ask for peace on earth.” My daughter looked a little surprised by my spontaneity.

“What’s peace on earth, Grandma?” Leah asked.

“Peace on earth means all the people in the world would get along. That’s the true meaning of Christmas.”

Leah nodded seriously. “Yes,” she agreed. “Mommy, put down peace on earth.” Leanne obliged.

Finally we reached the head of the line. One of Santa’s helpers waved Leah up to Santa and lifted her lightly onto his knee. Within seconds he had her giggling and chatting like they were old friends.

Leah shyly handed him her note. Santa adjusted his glasses and read it over very carefully before placing it on the shelf beside him. Leah jumped off his lap and ran into my arms.

“Can we go to the pet shop and see the puppies now?”

All that preparation to talk to Santa and now all she could think about was puppies! By Christmas morning Leah would probably have forgotten what she asked for anyway. That’s all part of being six years old.

The coming days were filled with the last-minute preparations for the holiday. It was all worth it as I watched Leah tear joyfully into her presents on Christmas morning. “I got Aquadoodle!” she squealed. “It’s just what I wanted!”

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