When Eric’s parents decide to read his letter to Santa so they can buy him what he wants for Christmas, they find a message that breaks their hearts instead.
“Mom.” Eric tugged gently on his mom’s sleeve.
“Yes, Tina, I updated it yesterday.” Eric’s mom turned to Eric briefly, showing him a hand gesture to wait before pointing at her phone.
Eric sighed and walked away. He was eight years old and big enough to know he’d be waiting a long time once his mom started talking to her colleagues.
He returned to the lounge. He and Dad had been watching a cartoon, but Dad was also busy on his phone now!
“Hey, Eric, sorry about the interruption, but I’ve got to answer this message quickly.” Eric’s dad flashed him a brief smile while he tapped at his phone screen.
“Okay, but can I—”
“I told you I’m answering a message, Eric. Wait.”
Eric curled up on the couch. It was nearly time to go to the playground. He’d waited all day for his parents to come home, and he didn’t want to wait any longer!
“Eric?” Mom entered the room with a frown. “I’m sorry, sweetheart, but I can’t go to the playground with you today. There’s been a big mix-up at work that I have to fix, but you can still go with your dad.”
“Actually, I also have something important to do for work.” Eric’s dad sat beside him on the couch. “I’m sorry, kiddo, but we can always go tomorrow.”
“But you always say that, and it never happens!” Eric jumped off the couch.
“I’m sorry, Eric, but we must work to make enough money to live a happy life. You understand that,” Eric’s dad said.
Eric crossed his arms. It was always money and always work. He understood they needed money to buy things, but none of those things had ever made him as happy as being with his parents.
There was only one item on Eric’s wishlist, and it brought both his parents to tears.
Tears prickled in his eyes. All he wanted was to go to the playground with Mom and Dad, but all they ever wanted to do was work.
“We’ll make it up to you this weekend.” Mom put a hand on his shoulder and crouched down beside him. “Santa will visit the mall to collect letters from all the kids. Would you like to go see him?”
Eric glanced at Mom. He wasn’t sure he believed in Santa anymore, but he did want to be with Mom and Dad. He nodded his head.
“Great!” Mom grinned at him. “You’d better start thinking about what you want Santa to bring you for Christmas.”
Eric spent the next few days working on his letter to Santa. After dinner in the evenings, he’d discuss what he was putting on his list with his parents unless they were busy with work.
On Saturday morning, he woke up excited to go to the mall and see Santa. He entered the kitchen, where he expected to find his parents making coffee, but instead, Grandma Annie was there.
“Hello, Eric.” Grandma smiled at him. “Your mom and dad had to go to work today, so they asked me to look after you. I hear we’re going on an important errand to deliver your letter to Santa at the mall!”
“No, I don’t want to go anymore.” Eric turned away.
“But how will Santa know what to get you for Christmas?”
Eric wiped away tears from his eyes. There was only one thing he wanted for Christmas.
Late that evening, Eric’s parents came home and thanked Grandma Annie for looking after Eric on such short notice.
“I’m always happy to look after my grandson,” Annie replied, “but he’s spent most of the day shut up in his room. He didn’t want to go to the mall to see Santa.”
“He didn’t? But he was so excited about it.” Eric’s mom frowned.
“I think he was excited to spend the day with the pair of you.” Annie reached out to pat Eric’s mom’s hand. “I know you both have to work very hard, but it’s important to make time for your children.”
Eric’s mom and dad looked at each other, both feeling guilty.
After Grandma Annie left, Eric’s mom and dad went to his room. Eric was already asleep, with tear marks on his soft cheeks. His mom leaned over to kiss him on the forehead and noticed a letter to Santa in his hand.
She took the letter and gestured to Eric’s dad to follow her.
“Let’s read the letter,” she whispered to Eric’s dad. “Then we can make certain to buy Eric the presents he wants for Christmas.”
“That’s a great idea.” Eric’s dad grinned.
They sat on the couch together and unfolded the paper. There was only one item on Eric’s wishlist, and it brought both his parents to tears.
‘Dear Santa, please can you give my mom and dad a lot of money so they can spend more time with me instead of working all the time. I miss them so much.’
Eric’s mom looked into her husband’s eyes. “Jim, what can we do? I can’t bear the thought of our work making Eric so unhappy, but we can’t just quit either.”
“We can, Shania.” Jim took his wife’s hands in his. “I got a job offer from a rival marketing company.”
Shania frowned. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I was waiting to discuss it with you, but now I think it will be best for our family if I take it.” Jim leaned closer. “The hours are better and so is the salary. I’ll be making enough money that you can quit too and look for a better job.”
“Are you sure?”
Jim nodded. “I’ll show you the emails I received from them. We agreed to give Eric the presents he asked for on this list, and this job will allow us to do that.”
Shania leaned over to hug her husband, her tears of sadness replaced by tears of joy.
The next day, both of Eric’s parents quit their jobs. They spent every day of the Christmas holidays playing with Eric, going for walks, and taking Eric to the playground.
Eric was the happiest he’d been in a very long time. He couldn’t believe his Christmas wish had come true.
When his parents started new jobs, Eric worried that everything would return to the way it was before, but they soon put his fears to rest.
Every evening, Eric’s parents put their phones away to spend time with their son. They never canceled their weekend plans to go out with Eric again, and he grew up knowing his parents would always be there for him.
What can we learn from this story?
Children need to spend time with their parents. It can be challenging to balance work and family life, but it’s important to prioritize spending quality time with children.
All parents make mistakes. Parenting is difficult, and nobody can expect to do it perfectly.
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