“Christmas Dreams,” Dec. 15, 2020

The best gifts don’t wait for Christmas. They show up when we need them. On September 1, 2001, I published my first book and planned to leave soon on a multi-city book tour. Plans changed ten days later when thousands of Americans lost their lives in a terrorist attack.

But a few weeks later, I boarded a nearly empty flight to begin signing books around the country. It was a strange time to do a book tour. But I knew somehow it was right time.

Fast forward to October 15, 2020. In a worldwide pandemic, I published my second book, a novel. This time I knew there’d be no book tour. No hugs or handshakes or tears shared with readers. But again, I knew it was the right time. I’d spent years writing it. I was ready, at last, to let it go.

I’ve loved reading emails and book reviews from readers, and realizing how happy they are for me, finishing my longtime dream. But I’ve missed having a personal connection, getting to see the look in readers’ eyes and the smiles on their faces.

Imagine my surprise last week to be invited to speak at a book club that was reading my book. They had met in each other’s homes for more than 25 years, until the pandemic. Now they meet online with Zoom.

It was the easiest book talk I’ve ever done. For Zoom, you only need to get dressed from the waist up. I wore sweat pants and UGG boots, which I’d never do for a “real” meeting, lest my mother would spin in her grave.

The best part was getting to look (virtually) into everyone’s eyes, to hear in their voices and sense in their smiles the miracle that can happen when someone reads the words you’ve written and understands your heart.

Three days later, I joined a second Zoom meeting for a reunion of Youth Tour 2000, a once-in-a-lifetime experience I took part in 20 years ago.
On the first Sunday in 2000, I sat in Bethel Unspeakable Joy Fellowship in South Central Los Angeles, and heard Pastor Carol Houston talk about her dream to take children from her church on a cross-country bus tour.

I thought to myself, “That woman is crazy.” But dreamers need to be a bit crazy to dream of things like taking kids on a bus tour or writing a book.

Having done my share of chaperoning bus trips, I did not want to get on that bus. But when Pastor Carol invited me to join them, I knew it was the right thing to do. So I said “yes” to an experience that changed not only my life, but the lives of most of us on that bus.

That change was clear 10 years ago when we met for a reunion and shared memories of the trip and what it meant to us. And it was still clear last week when we met again, this time online.

At the end of the meeting, Pastor Carol urged everyone to hold on tight to our God-given dreams and to trust God to make them a reality.

I like Pastor Carol a lot. It was a gift to see her and her now grown flock again, and to realize her dream is still changing lives.

My third early Christmas gift came today, not on Zoom, but in the flesh. I’d been moping about, missing my family and friends and the pandemic-free life I once took for granted.

I thought the doorbell was a delivery. But it was my daughter and her 9-year-old Henry. They kept socially distant, didn’t come in the house, just wanted to surprise me with two early gifts: a potted narcissus (my daughter knows I love them) and a picture Henry drew (he knows I love his drawings) of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

I wish you could see them.

The best gifts of all are dreams that come true. They can show up in any form, a smile or a kindness or an unexpected visit. But they are always what we need, just when we need it.

What’s your Christmas dream?

Comments

  1. shashi says:

    Happy Christmas dear Sharron to you and your family. I have read all columns since last many years since you publish them here. Newspaper Reporter got lost or stopped publishing it. But you always write something special. Your first book is great. I bought it. Never read any novel but would buy your book soon. Wish it is your story.

  2. Lynnderella Bland says:

    My dream is ordinary and huge: I want to be a grandma. I want to smell that baby’s hair (if he/she has any) and kiss those fat cheeks. I want to marvel at the wrinkles and rolls that on a baby looks so precious. I want to put little fat fingers in my mouth. I was to see my grandbaby see me. I always “knew” I would be a grandma, not just a want…I KNEW. I planned to retire from teaching and keep my grandbabies when their mama and daddy went to work-babysitting at its best, such a win-win. My mom helped raise my babies; I would drop them off half asleep to be fed, bathed, and adored, with no worries about them while I was gone. When my own (imaginary) grandchildren grow older, I want to take them places, play with them, teach them about the big world and little crafts. However, as my body starts its decline, that dream becomes more foggy. I’ve been trying to make room for a new, different dream, but this one has lived in my heart for too long to shake it out. I do enjoy my friends’ photos and stories, and I laugh at the grandma names they are given. I celebrate with them when their gkids do something wonderful. That has to be enough, for now, outside looking in and bathing in their shared joy. That’s what my dream looks like, sounds like, feels like. One day, my dream will become reality and I will celebrate, even if I am experiencing the joy from above.

  3. Susan Holsten says:

    I finished your beautiful novel but I did not want to do so. I have been a fan of your column for many years. Your writing speaks to my heart. I wish your story could go on and on. God bless you and yours 💕
    Susan

  4. Steve says:

    Hello Ms. Randall. I really don’t see why you should be concerned visiting, a proper visit with your Daughter and her 9 yr. old. After all, they have been saying no more than grps of 10 PPL, and that should be perfectly OK to me, as long as they have been careful and it sounds like they have.

    For Thanksgiving, my Wife & I weren’t about to bury our heads in the sand and not have our Traditional get together with our Son and his family, just three of them, him, who has been working out of his home since before the pandemic, our 10 yr. old Grand daughter who ha been stuck in the house, virtual schooling. Only our Daughter In Law, who is a manager for the State (Calif) OFC of Emergency Medical Services, or something to that affect, works in her State OFC, but is TEMP. checked often, no guarantees we know, but we had our usual great overnight visit and will again them coming down from Sacto, to us, for Christmas. Just five of us total, and is no problem as far as we are concerned.

  5. Kate Sciacca says:

    My dream is that all people would embrace the lives that they’ve been blessed with. That they would be freed from fear. That they would trust in Almighty God and His Divine Plan. That they would come to know, deep in their souls, that this life is short…. but eternity is long. That they would “play the long game.” We celebrate Christmas- when Mary’s “FIAT” brought forth the Word Who became flesh and died for our salvation. That Truth is denied by those who hope to be their own gods…. so sad. Blessings to you dear lady and all your family – and prayers for a happy and joyful New Year 🙂

  6. Lucia Gilreath says:

    I just finished reading “The World and Then Some”. To say I loved it would be an understatement. I am 72 and grew up and live in the Upstate of SC. I have heard you speak and have always enjoyed your columns. As the mother of a daughter and two sons and now five grandsons, I can so relate to your writings and also to your upbringing as I too grew up in a family that had its share of problems, but also had praying grandmothers. I so hope you have another book in the works. I have enjoyed this one immensely. I pray you and your family will have a wonderful Christmas. Blessings to you and yours.

  7. Katie Musgrave says:

    Yes, God provides those needed surprise blessings when we need them most. I got to visit my son and his family Thanksgiving time. And, later my daughter and my first grandchild (expecting her first child in March 2021) visited me. Sure needed my family hugs and love. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Keep writing and I’ll keep enjoying your stories. Love 💘

  8. Patti Peters says:

    My Christmas dream is for my children (41 and 39 now) to have a pain free life. And for my grandson to choose a rewarding career (he is 17 months…a late gift). And for people to care more about each other…
    Loved your book!

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