“Is Daddy coming home for Christmas?” Sarah stared out the living room window at a single snowflake. Fluffy as a down feather, it danced and bobbed in the air.
“What if we make a wish? Will that help?” She bounced on her toes. If she could catch the first snowflake, her wish would come true.
“Then I’d better hurry. Tonight is Christmas Eve.” Sarah raced to put on her red winter coat, knit mittens and boots.
The thick grey clouds promised another white Christmas. The holiday was always special here. Tonight the townspeople would sing carols on the Green and there would be a living manger with cows and a burro. Mr. Dickens dressed as one of the Magi and paraded three Llamas to greet the baby Jesus.
“Oh no,” Sarah wailed. “I must make a wish on the first snowflake. Who are you?”
“My Dad promised to come home for Christmas, but he’s at the other side of the world. Mom said it’s too far, but that a wish might help.”
“I don’t think so. She said if wishes were horses then beggars would ride, but I don’t know what that means. Should I ask her?”
“But what about my wish?” Sarah wailed.
“Mom! Mom! Look! I found her in the yard.” Sarah shouted. The front door slammed again. “Her name is Noel.”
“I don’t think she’s lost, Mom. Can we take her with us to the carol sing?”
Sarah pouted. “Not everyone. Daddy won’t.”
“If we wish hard enough, he will.” Sarah took her Mom’s hand and tugged her toward the kitchen. She cradled Noel to her chest with her free arm. “I’ll help pack the cookies for the church social.”
Sarah wrapped Noel in a thick baby blanket she kept for her other dolls. She whispered, “Are you cold?” Noel’s blue eyes twinkled and Sarah accepted that as an answer she was okay.
“Tell me again about the new baby, Mom. Will he come tonight?”
“Look, look, there’s the stable,” Sarah pointed at the clumsy structure the CCD class had erected to house the cow and burro during tonight’s Christmas play. The manger and straw bales were dimly lit by an old kerosene lantern. One of the robe-garbed wise men led a harnessed llama past.
The church elders had arranged a bonfire. A table manned by white-haired old ladies dispensed hot cider. At exactly six o’clock both churches rang their bells and everyone cheered. They gathered in front of the Congregational church steps as the choir director handed out music copies to anyone who didn’t already know the words.
“I wish Daddy could see this,” Sarah whispered as she hugged Noel tight.
Mom groaned. Her hand squeezed too tightly and Sarah glanced up at her pale face.
“Looks like your brother might be a Christmas baby after all.” Mom glanced around. “Could you bring Dr. White over here? Tell him my water broke.”
Sarah knew better than to ask questions when Mom sounded like that.
“Too fast,” she cried. “He’s coming too fast.”
A state plow slowed to a halt and a soldier leaped down.
“I can’t explain why my squad all got leave.” He explained. “And then a military transport flew right into Harford. It was like my wishes came true.” He gathered them into his arms and Sarah looked for Noel, but saw only a new angel atop the tree.