Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.—Hebrews 11:1

It was December in the mid-1980s. We were parents to nine kids in our Serendipity West group home located in the Santa Cruz mountain town of Boulder Creek, California. Excitement was overflowing as we trudged hill and dale looking for the perfect Christmas tree on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Finding the Perfect Christmas Tree

The Santa Cruz mountains were home to many “cut your own tree” farms, and every year we took our 12-passenger van filled with kids from ages 5 to 18 to cut down the biggest and best Christmas tree ever! This particular year we just couldn’t agree on a tree and so we went from farm to farm, trudging up hills and sliding down muddy patches all day long.

Someone would yell, “Come this way!” and we would all run up the hill only to find the tree wasn’t tall enough or had a flat side. It might have been our sliding on mud that got us talking about sledding. None of us really had sledding experience, but seeing the hills and trees, we talked about how much fun that would be.

As it turned out, we didn’t find the perfect tree that year until, exhausted and hungry, we drove back into town and found a perfectly shaped, 10-foot Douglas fir on the Christmas tree lot of our volunteer fire department.

As tradition would have it, after the tree was decorated, carols had been sung, and hot chocolate was served, it was time to see the Christmas wish lists from each kid.

Andy and the Sled

Andy was a 9-year-old boy. He and his older brother had been living with us for several months. He was a gentle boy—kind and friendly. He smiled constantly, grinning from ear to ear. Andy said he wanted a sled for Christmas. Top of his list. All the kids laughed and said, “It never snows in Boulder Creek. Why would you want a sled?” He replied with his customary grin, “I just want a sled.”

Days went by and my husband Richard or I would suggest things to Andy that he might really like for Christmas, hoping to nudge him in a different direction, but he was steadfast. He wanted a sled.

Andy believed. He held to what he wanted even though the odds were against him. Although others were making fun of his dream, he stayed the course.

As Christmas drew closer, we bought most of the gifts the kids wanted and wrapped them, hiding them away until late Christmas Eve. All except a sled. We bought several things we knew Andy would love, but worried a sled might make him the target of ridicule when he had no use for it.

One last trip to Toys “R” Us and there it was! In the aisle, stacked in a bin, colorful, plastic snow sleds. Five dollars! I knew I had to get a bright red snow disk for Andy. So what if there was no snow in our mountains? We could always take the kids to Tahoe one weekend and find plenty of snow. So there. I had it. Wrapped and waiting to be put under the tree.

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, we made our usual trek to church for the beautiful Christmas Eve candlelight service. Our church was about 45 minutes away over the mountain roads into San Jose. On our way home late that evening, it started to rain. As we wound our way up the mountain, the rain turned to sleet and then at the top, snow.

It rarely snows in the Santa Cruz mountains. The highest elevation is less than 2,000 feet. The laughter and joking was silenced as the kids saw what was happening. A Christmas miracle. As we descended the other side, it began to rain again, but we knew there was snow on top. Andy didn’t say anything, but we could see the sparkle in his eyes, knowing he had requested a sled for Christmas.

Christmas morning was wet. The kids didn’t care. They opened their gifts with gusto, and each one looked at what the others had gotten. Everyone was so happy, but none so happy as Andy, sitting in the middle of his red sled on the carpet of the living room.

Covered in Snow

When Christmas breakfast was done and everyone was bundled up, we got in the van and drove back to the top of the mountain—covered in snow! Andy jumped out and found a little hill and soon was joyously sliding down and then running back up, down, and up. The other kids made snowmen and threw snowballs and watched Andy and his new sled. Nobody was laughing at him now.

The day after Christmas, the snow had moved down the mountain to our house. Unheard of! The kids spent the day sliding down the hill in front of our house and down our driveway. Andy had a sled. The others used sheets of cardboard and baking pans.

Andy believed. He held to what he wanted even though the odds were against him. Although others were making fun of his dream, he stayed the course. He stood strong and didn’t let the naysayers shoot him down.

In Unity, we understand the power behind holding a vision, despite how impossible that vision might seem. Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore said, “Faith is the perceiving power of the mind linked with a power to shape substance. Faith is spiritual assurance; the power to do the seemingly impossible … It is a deep inner knowing that that which is sought is already ours for the taking.” He and wife Myrtle held on to faith as they healed their bodies from lifelong ailments. They held a vision of the Unity movement, which now circles the globe.

I don’t know where Andy is now. He moved back with his mother a couple of years later, and Social Services doesn’t allow contact with kids after they move. I hope at Christmas, Andy remembers his red snow sled and the Christmas miracle we all experienced. I dream that as Andy grew up, he never lost his belief and has stayed true to his dreams. I wish for Andy that his faith still lives on.

About the Author

Suzie Burdick is a retired foster parent and group home director. For the past 15 years, she has served as the Uniteens Coordinator at Unity North Atlanta, where her husband Richard is senior minister.
Headshot of Suzie Burdick


No Results