CHARITY SINGLETON CRAIG at 5 years old found a stash of toy wrappings and boxes in the back stairwell, that Santa had supposedly brought to her house the night before on his sleigh. Needless to say, that was the last year she believed in the jolly old elf.
ASHLEY HALES didn’t know her dad had spent Christmas Eve digging holes and pouring cement in her backyard for a swing set. The next morning, he pulled back the drapes and she ran outside—elated, breathless, and excited to fly.
JAMIE A. HUGHES thought Christmas was over until her father brought out a large package addressed to both her and her brother. They ripped the paper off to find the box for the G.I. Joe aircraft carrier they’d been yearning for—empty. Her dad laughed and pointed to the door to the sun porch, where they found the toy, fully assembled and each sticker in place.
LIUAN HUSKA didn’t celebrate Christmas until she and her parents immigrated to the U.S. from China when she was 3. The first time she received actual Christmas presents, her aunt in California mailed a porcelain tea set and an electric train with tracks, and she was delighted.
LEIGH MCLEROY was celebrating Christmas in a small town in West Texas when a neighbor’s lonely German shepherd slipped in through an open door and joined her family in the living room. The big, strange dog climbed up onto the sofa and stayed the whole time they opened gifts, and eventually ambled off before dinner just as quietly as he’d come.
CARYN RIVADENEIRA once found a bin of wrapped presents under a blanket in the garage. Presents from Santa on December 23! Her belief in Santa was waning, but the real surprise was that her parents could be so sneaky.
JOHN VANDENOEVER was about 10 when the most magnificent gift unveiled itself through the wrappings of Christmas paper: a short, rectangular camera with a red button on top and a wrist strap. His mom gasped at the extravagance of his aunt and uncle, even as he felt the weight of their trust, and a wide avenue opened to possibility.