Secret Christmas Pal
    Footnotes

    “Secret Christmas Pal,” New Era, Dec. 1986, 34

    Participatory Journalism:
    Secret Christmas Pal

    December 13th was the day I was to become a Christmas “secret pal.”

    Every year the seminary students at Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood, Arizona pick people in need of love to become a part of their lives. Each night for 12 days before Christmas, the students share a gift, a treat, or a thought with someone. I picked my quiet, friendly neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Boyle to be the object of my secret attentions.

    The first night I went to their back door to knock and run, leaving a little gift. I had to run to the door about four times before they heard me knocking. Each time, I ran quickly out the gate to hide behind their little blue car and wait to see if they would find my gift.

    The next day I realized that their mean dog, who I thought at one time was going to take off half of my face, suddenly began to like me. He even licked me one night, and to think I had been afraid of him!

    One night I knocked on the back door, and the Boyles answered lightning fast. They found the small present I’d left and came out with flashlights looking for me. I ran again to the back of their car. They both flashed the bright lights into my eyes and I didn’t dare breathe. I felt like I was part of the bumper. I almost stood up thinking I was caught, when suddenly they turned around and went back inside. I was so excited I hadn’t been caught.

    One night I was walking home, and I overheard them say that they were going to be waiting for their secret admirer. So I put that night’s goodie in the mailbox. I called them on the phone and sang, “I wish you a Merry Christmas, I wish you a Merry Christmas, I wish you would go look in your mailbox, Merry Christmas, I truly love you.”

    Three days before Christmas, I sneaked into the yard after dark as usual and glanced in the window. I saw Mr. Boyle sitting near Mrs. Boyle’s chair. I said to myself, “Now is the time to do it.” I was on my way to the back door when suddenly a hand grabbed me, and Mr. Boyle yelled, “Gotcha!” I was caught. Mr. Boyle took me inside to talk to his wife. When Mrs. Boyle saw who I was, she got tears in her eyes and they thanked me. When I was in their house I noticed that they didn’t have a tree or any kind of Christmas decorations up.

    Even though I had been found out, I decided I wasn’t through yet. On Christmas I bought them a small decorated Christmas tree. This time I didn’t try to hide. When I took it over, they invited me in, and Mrs. Boyle, with tears streaming down her cheeks, told me about their son.

    The Boyle’s son fought in Viet Nam. Mrs. Boyle promised him that she would never celebrate another Christmas without him. He was killed in the fighting. My efforts to bring a little Christmas into their lives was the first time since their son left to fight that they had felt the love of Christ and the Christmas spirit. Together, all hugging each other, we cried.

    Illustrated by Brent Christison

    Photography by Marty Mayo