One wintery Sunday morning Marie, a dear friend of Yamos Dunn, came to him with a parenting dilemma.
“We have a problem,” she said. “Carmen has written her letter to Santa.”
“She wants a reindeer for Christmas.”
“Not very practical, huh?”
“There’s no way we can get her a reindeer and I’m not ready to tell her there’s no Santa Claus. We’ve told her Santa Claus can bring her whatever she wants and she has been a very good girl. What are we going to do?’
Yamos stood silently absorbing what his friend had said. For a moment he closed his eyes and Marie was not quite sure whether he was thinking or had drifted off to sleep.
He opened his eyes. “A reindeer, you say?”
“Yes, a reindeer.”
“She’s a bit ambitious for a six year old. I don’t suppose you can buy her a reindeer.”
Marie smiled. “No, I don’t think we can.”
“Give me a little time. I think I can take care of this for you.”
That Christmas morning, Carmen received, among the many gifts her parents had bought for her, a children’s book titled “The Littlest Reindeer”, a small toy reindeer, and a book describing and picturing animals of all types from all over the Earth. The animal book was obviously intended for someone well beyond the reading capabilities of a small child, but the pictures were abundant enough and significantly fascinating to hold the interest of even one who couldn’t read all the words.
Accompanying the book was an envelope containing a letter written on the finest official letterhead of the North Pole and signed by Santa Claus himself. The letter looked something like this:
Carmen Evangeline Bishop
11803 W. 152nd St.
Overland Park, KS, USA 66213
This past spring in Lapland a baby reindeer was born. She was named Whisper because her voice is so quiet and she is very gentle. Sometimes she is almost shy. She still spends most of her time by her mother’s side, but she loves to frolic in the Finnish snow and sometimes run and play with the other young reindeer. She is a bit smaller than most of the calves who were born in the spring, but she is still growing and she keeps up with her cousins very well.
If I were able to bring a reindeer to you, Whisper would be the one that I would bring. In the place where Whisper lives it is often very cold and snow covers the ground for all but a few weeks during the middle of summer. Reindeer are well suited for this environment as they are covered by thick fur coats, but living in a warm climate would be very uncomfortable for them. Reindeer are very social animals. They run and play in herds, sometimes large herds. They depend upon each other and enjoy each other’s company a great deal. Because the climate where you live is so very different from that of Lapland and because there are not a lot of other reindeer in Kansas, it just is not a good idea to bring Whisper there to live, but I will never give her to anyone else and I will always think of her as “Carmen’s reindeer”. Someday maybe you could come visit her here in the Finnish Lapland.
Carmen, I am so glad that you love reindeer as I am very fond of reindeer myself. I believe that you are a person who loves all animals and that is a very good love to have. I am sending you a book that will tell you all about many animals and on page two hundred ninety-two there is a description of the reindeer who live here with me. I have also sent you a book called, “The Littlest Reindeer”. It is really a book that is not as grown up as you are, but I thought you might enjoy reading it to Melissa until she gets old enough to read. There is a little toy reindeer with the book that I would like you to keep near you and sometimes it may remind you of Whisper.
Carmen, I am glad that you are the good girl that you are and I hope you will always love reindeer and all the beautiful animals that God has made for us to enjoy.
May you have a very merry Christmas and may all your Christmas wishes come true.
From your very special friend,
Soon after Christmas, Marie thanked Yamos and told him what a success the letter had been and how Carmen was perfectly satisfied with her gift.
“I feel so guilty,” Yamos said. “What kind of a man would lie to a little child like that?”
“Well, thank you anyway,” Marie replied. “I’m grateful.”
Almost a year passed and all was well in the world of Yamos Dunn. He forgot, for the most part, his deceit and he did the things that Yamos would do. Then one November day Marie again came to her friend, Yamos, for help.
“We have a problem,” she said. “Carmen has written her letter to Santa. Do you know what she wants now?”
“No. Not another reindeer?”
“No. She wants to go to Finland to visit her reindeer.”
Yamos looked into Marie’s eyes with the most compassionate, but firm, gaze that he could muster. “I’m sorry. I just can’t help you.”
And he turned and walked away gently shaking his head.
And that’s the way it was one cold November day in the sometimes odd world of Yamos Dunn.