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A Miracle Under the Christmas Tree: Real Stories of Hope, Faith and the True Gifts of the Season
Cover of A Miracle Under the Christmas Tree: Real Stories of Hope, Faith and the True Gifts of the Season
A Miracle Under the Christmas Tree: Real Stories of Hope, Faith and the True Gifts of the Season
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There's something truly magical about Christmas. Filled with remarkable true stories of the kindness of strangers and the blessings of answered prayers, this collection with its small miracles truly captures the spirit of the season.

These stories of hope, faith and joy are a moving tribute to the true meaning of Christmas and remind us all that the greatest gifts in life can't be gift wrapped.


There's something truly magical about Christmas. Filled with remarkable true stories of the kindness of strangers and the blessings of answered prayers, this collection with its small miracles truly captures the spirit of the season.

These stories of hope, faith and joy are a moving tribute to the true meaning of Christmas and remind us all that the greatest gifts in life can't be gift wrapped.
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    Deirdre woke early, just like every December 25. She tiptoed downstairs, hoping against hope that this would be the year her dream would come true. Her parents were already awake and seated at the kitchen table; that fact alone gave the young girl pause, as they were never downstairs on Christmas morning until much later.

    "Morning, sleepy head," Ben, Deirdre's father said. "'Bout time you rolled outa the hay!" When Nancy, Deirdre's mother, tried to hide her giggle behind her coffee cup, Deirdre knew something was up.



    So began the short story—or some variation—that I wrote every year growing up. It was my dream to walk downstairs Christmas morning and find a paint horse tied outside the picture window. I, like most girls, was obsessed with horses. Usually that obsession passes like any other fad. Mine didn't. In fact, it set down roots so firm that not even marriage to a "nonhorse" man could pull them up.

    Every year I wrote a similar story, "Dreaming of My Paint Horse," and gave it to my parents, hoping that they would get the hint. It seemed they never would. Every year I looked out the picture window to find an empty yard and disappointment, a vacant space where my horse ought to be.

    We were never deprived as kids, far from it. But I'd have gladly relinquished every toy, every item of clothing, even every horse statue and book for that Dream Horse.

    My childhood passed, as did many of my interests. Tennis? Too much work. Knitting? Knot! Horses? Now that was the constant passion in my life. I read about them, wrote about them and even joined a 4-H club that taught about them. Of course, I also dreamed about them. My own horse, though, was always out of reach.

    My two older sisters each had a horse when they were younger, but in the words of my parents, "They lost interest in the horses as soon as boys came along." How was that my fault? I didn't care about boys. Boys were dumb. This was my mantra even through my teen years, until the unthinkable happened . . . I met Ron.

    Ron and I came from similar working-class backgrounds and became best friends shortly after we met. Ron was perfect in every way, except that he barely knew the head from the tail of a horse. This, I thought, I could deal with. I might even teach him a thing or two. We were engaged within six weeks and married a year later. Some things you just know.

    We marked our fifth anniversary, then our tenth, and then suddenly we were looking forward to our twentieth anniversary. Through all the years, my obsession with horses lived dormant—below the surface of other goings-on, but it was present nonetheless. Ron dealt with this quirk of mine the way he dealt with most things: with a quiet smile and an "oh, well" shrug of the shoulders, thinking I would get over it someday. But someday never came.

    The Internet, however, did, and its information superhighway allowed me access to horses. A voyeuristic approach, I admit, but one which at least gave relief to some of my desire. I discovered a myriad of websites that listed horses for sale, and I haunted them all. I searched for paint horses, torturing myself looking at horses I knew I'd never own. Until one day in December when I found a website owned by Sealite Paint Horses in Ijamsville, Maryland. I immediately searched the Foals page. There, my pulse quickened from a minor trot of anticipation to a fullblown gallop at finding so many paint foals, from weanlings to long yearlings. I was drawn to three in particular: two yearlings and a weanling, all beautifully marked and all fillies. My heart dropped into my shoes.

    On...
About the Author-
  • Jennifer Basye Sander is the author and co-author of over 50 titles, including the New York Times bestseller Christmas Miracles (1997). Sander and her books have been featured on CNBC, CNNfn, The View with Barbara Walters, C-Span's Book TV, and Fox News, among others. Articles about Sander have appeared in People, USA TODAY, the New York Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, Cosmopolitan, the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times, among others. Visit her at WriteByTheLake.com.

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A Miracle Under the Christmas Tree: Real Stories of Hope, Faith and the True Gifts of the Season
A Miracle Under the Christmas Tree: Real Stories of Hope, Faith and the True Gifts of the Season
Jennifer Basye Sander
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