Holiday memories: A gift from Russia

I was about 4 years old and my father wasn't going to be with us for Christmas. He was working in Russia on an oil rig. I had been sad and depressed. Mom put us in the car on Christmas Eve to drive as usual to my Grandmother and Grandpa Hlebechuk's farm in Fairfield, N.D., from our house in Dickinson, N.D.

The weather was dreadful. My four older sisters and I piled into our gray family van. We battled a blizzard all the way to my grandparents. We had dinner once we arrived and then went into the living room and talked for awhile. It was bedtime, and we walked up the long staircase to the second floor.

It continued to blizzard and storm, and when there were about four feet of snow on the ground, my mom woke me up and asked if I had heard a funny noise. "No," I said in a sleepy voice.

Just as I was drifting back to sleep, I heard the noise too! I jumped four feet off the bed with excitement, thinking it must be Santa Claus. My mom took me downstairs, and there were my Dad and favorite Uncle John standing there!

"Merry Christmas," Dad said. "Santa thought he would give us a lift home for Christmas!" my Uncle John added. After that, I went to bed and had wonderful dreams about Christmas. That morning, when I woke up, I ran downstairs to see if it was true my Dad had come home. Both he and Uncle John were sitting at Grandma's kitchen table sipping hot coffee.

I then ran into the living room and looked all around. Presents were everywhere! Soon everyone was up and we opened all our presents. Everyone went outside to play in the four feet of snow. Afterwards, we drank hot chocolate and Dad told us stories of riding in Santa's sleigh.

My sisters wondered how Santa Claus found Dad, but I knew. Rudolph had found Dad in the snowstorm because he knew I wanted my Dad and Uncle John home for Christmas more than any present. Rudolph had taken Santa to Russia to get Dad and Uncle John. I had gotten what I wanted that Christmas. Christmas night, my dreams were full of me riding with Santa around the world.


Age 13

Silver Stage Middle School


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