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A Special Night at Christmas


jingle bell photo

I unwrapped some of our Christmas decorations last evening. In one of the boxes, I found a silver jingle bell. I shook it and listened to its sweet, metallic ring.

After my husband passed away in 2001 at the young age of forty, I attempted to fill the painful void in my family’s holidays in any and all ways I could imagine.

One year I invited our “special” friends from my daughter’s Special Olympic’s bowling team to come to our home to watch Christmas movies, socialize and a little holiday magic vis-a-vis a white elephant gift drawn from a red velvet grab bag.

My daughter has been bowling with the same children — now adults — for many years. The parents and caregivers have all become friends and support systems for each other. We understand the unusual challenges and the tremendous blessings of raising and loving individuals with special needs.

The year Polar Express came out on DVD, we decided that was the movie we would watch for our “special” evening.  I bought polar themed accessories. Snow flakes, snowmen, ice blue plates, napkins, table clothes, set the mood for a night visiting the North Pole. I pulled out my biggest pot for hot chocolate. Each of the “kids” brought a white elephant gift. After a few slices of pizza and great anticipation, they drew a gift from a large red velvet bag. We gave each of our guests a large jingle bell on a long, sky blue ribbon to ring at the end of the movie. It has since then become an annual event.

They sit on the sofa, the floor, and all available chairs and snuggle up next to the fireplace.

hot chocolat waiterThe parents and caregivers each have their traditional roles. When the song “Hot Chocolate” starts to play, we make a conga line, lead by a fellow caregiver and friend, Wayne. The “kids” and the parents sing and chant, “Hot, hot, hot. Hot Chocolate!”  with the song. We carry cups of hot chocolate dipped out from the pot on the kitchen stove and topped with whipped cream into the great room and deliver them steaming, to each of the Olympians.

In the film, as the children grow into adulthood, they lose their ability to hear the sound of the silver jingle bell ring with the Faith and Belief of Santa.

The “kids” come prepared to ring their silver jingle bells at the end of the movie.

“I believe!” they declare. I can’t imagine our holidays without our “special” evening; a night when angels descend upon our home to bring glad tidings and a full cup of faith.

As the shaken silver jingle bell I had taken from the box fell silent, I wondered about the faith and belief of the sweet, special angels that will cross our threshold this year for our traditional evening watching Polar Express. They will still ring their bells regardless of how old they become. They will always believe in the magic.


margaret in hollywoodAbout the Author

Peggy Foster has thirty years of experience as a writer, editor, and publisher. She edited a memoir that became a regional number one best seller. She founded and published a community newspaper for her hometown and published a proprietary periodical for families with disabled children.

Peggy has taught workshops locally and for the Writing Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota on “Structure for the Fiction Writer,” and multiple workshops on how to write fairy tales. (www.fairytalefest.net).