To their three youngest he explained that “due to a mistake we didn’t put the letter for Santa Claus in the mail and now it is too late to send it. We’re sorry, but Santa definitely isn’t going to visit this year.”
The reality was that a few days before that Mr. Gonzalez had lost the money he had saved for house expenses and Christmas shopping. It was money he had saved with the help of his wife.
Marcos’ employer was also his landlord, and after working hard for him for five years, he felt he could ask him for a few extra days to pay rent, which he agreed to. Marcos was told he would also receive a Christmas bonus from his employer which he assumed could help him make ends meet. However, things didn’t happen as he expected.
“My boss had told me he would give me some extra days to pay rent, but he didn’t. He collected the rent money from my Christmas bonus...,” said Marcos, who didn’t know what to do.
Their relatives who they considered might be able to help refused to do so, morally and financially. And to make things worse, they were notified that all utilities would be shut down if they didn’t pay $650 owed.
Maria de Lourdes, the oldest of the kids, was always aware of the real situation. And even though she understood it, she was still very sad.
“What is going in, Maria? Why are you so distracted?” asked the teacher to Marcos’ oldest daughter, which prompted her to explain her family’s situation.
“The utility bill was due and so was rent. On top of that, dad didn’t have any money for Christmas. I’m very sad,” said Maria’s teacher.
This Latino home certainly felt even colder than the rest of the already cold city of Omaha.
But then, something wonderful happened.
Marcos received a call from school: “Please come to school, we have something very special for you.”
The next day, with a bit of suspicion and wariness, Maria’s father showed up at school. It surprised him to receive good news instead of bad news: he got an envelope with $250 in gift cards for a store so that they could buy groceries.
Marcos Gonzalez happily returned home to tell his wife about what had happened: they now had a way to buy food.
“At one point I started to lose my faith in God, thinking he had forgotten us,” said Carlos.
On that same day, he went to his employer’s office for another surprise. It turns out the secretaries gave him a check for $150, another for $100 and one more for $75. It was money from their own pocket which they were giving him to help.
The most amazing thing was the help of a stranger who was there on the day when Marcos’ boss had told him he would have no Christmas bonus. “That person gave me a check for $650 and said it was a gift from him and his family. I didn’t know what to say or do, but I did realize that with that money I was going to be able to pay the utility bills.”
And just like that, all debt was paid and there was food in their pantry. However, in the eyes of the little ones, Santa Claus wouldn’t be able to visit this year because it was two days before Christmas and the tree looked sad without any presents.
And then, in the winter cold, a lady knocked on the door and asked for Marcos Gonzalez. Once he stood before her, she said: “Come, there is something for you in the truck, please come closer,” while she showed him a big black bag that contained wrapped boxes - they were the Christmas presents they were missing.
“Don’t go anywhere because there are more things for you,” she said while she opened the doors to her car which contained more bags with more boxes.
“God is real,” he said as he walked into his house with tears in his eyes. “The most amazing thing is that with all the emotions from such a gesture we didn’t even know who that woman was, but we thank her from the bottom of our hearts.”
This happened for Christmas 2016, and it is something they will never forget.
In fact, 2017 has been better for the Gonzalez, which is why they have decided to pay it forward by donating to the pantry of “Latinas Unidas” at the Nebraska Medical Center.
We must highlight that there are currently many people in the community in great need, be that a neighbor, a friend or a relative - people who think that Santa Claus won’t be visiting their homes. This is why every Christmas we all should give a gift to those in need.
Come together as a family and help someone in need so that they can receive the love and joy of Santa Claus.