Santa in a South Baltimore Door

Over twenty five years ago I was a Director of Christian Education at Catonsville United Methodist Church near Baltimore. Every Christmas, a woman from my Disciple Bible Study class stays in touch by sending me a card with a big jolly Santa Claus on front. This annual tradition comes from a God incidence story I shared with her class.

Santa had a special meaning to an elderly South Baltimore couple named Mr and Mrs. Murphy. They lived a few doors up from my parents house on East Randall Street, and were among the 114 customers I had on my two newspaper delivery routes, which I served daily for over four years.

That first Christmas, I was 14 years old and this was my first “business”. I wanted to do something special, that I could afford, for my customers. I bought some boxes of Christmas cards, twenty-five per box, with five different designs; one of which was a Santa. I signed each card, sealed them in the unmarked white envelopes, and delivered them to each customer’s door.

The next day, Mr and Mrs. Murphy met me at the door and invited me in. They wanted to tell me how happy they were to have received the card. It was the one with Santa. The dear couple explained how they’d had a son, long ago, who had died; he was just in his twenties He had a particular fondness for Santa Claus. They explained how important Santa was in their son’s life, and it was very much apart of the bond they all shared together. The details are lost to me now, but when they opened my Santa card, it touched their hearts and brought back joyful memories of their beloved son.

A random deed on my part was a sacred blessing on theirs. It’s one of those “God things”, I believe. God knows the details of our loves and our losses, our joys and our tears. And He can move within the simplest things we may do, and bring a blessing to a heart that so desperately needs it.

For the four Christmases during which I served those paper routes, and without advanced planning by me, the Murphy’s always got the Santa Claus in their door.