Sharon Randall: Your Christmas dream

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 17, 2020

The best gifts don’t wait for Christmas. They show up when we need them.

On September 1, 2001, I published my first book and planned to leave soon on a multi-city book tour. Plans changed ten days later when thousands of Americans lost their lives in a terrorist attack.

But a few weeks later, I boarded a nearly empty flight to begin signing books around the country. It was a strange time to do a book tour. But I knew somehow it was right time.

Fast forward to October 15, 2020, when in a worldwide pandemic, I published my second book, a novel. This time I knew there’d be no book tour. No hugs or handshakes or tears shared with readers. But again, I knew it was the right time. I’d spent years writing it. I was ready, at last, to let it go.

I’ve loved reading emails and book reviews from readers, and realizing how happy they are for me, finishing my longtime dream. But I’ve missed having a personal connection, getting to see the look in readers’ eyes and the smiles on their faces.

Imagine my surprise last week to be invited to speak at a book club that was reading my book. They had met in each other’s homes for more than 25 years, until the pandemic. Now they meet online with Zoom.

It was the easiest book talk I’ve ever done. For Zoom, you only need to get dressed from the waist up. I wore sweat pants and UGG boots, which I’d never do for a “real” meeting, lest my mother would spin in her grave.

The best part was getting to look (virtually) into everyone’s eyes, to hear in their voices and sense in their smiles the miracle that can happen when someone reads the words you’ve written and understands your heart.

Three days later, I joined a second Zoom meeting for a reunion of Youth Tour 2000, a once-in-a-lifetime experience I took part in 20 years ago.

On the first Sunday in 2000, I sat in Bethel Unspeakable Joy Fellowship in South Central Los Angeles, and heard Pastor Carol Houston talk about her dream to take children from her church on a cross-country bus tour.

I thought to myself, “That woman is crazy.” But dreamers need to be a bit crazy to dream of things like taking kids on a bus tour or writing a book.

Having done my share of chaperoning bus trips, I did not want to get on that bus. But when Pastor Carol invited me to join them, I knew it was the right thing to do. So I said “yes” to an experience that changed not only my life, but the lives of most of us on that bus.

That change was clear 10 years ago when we met for a reunion and shared memories of the trip and what it meant to us. And it was still clear last week when we met again, this time online.

At the end of the meeting, Pastor Carol urged everyone to hold on tight to our God-given dreams and to trust God to make them a reality.

I like Pastor Carol a lot. It was a gift to see her and her now grown flock again, and to realize her dream is still changing lives.

My third early Christmas gift came today, not on Zoom, but in the flesh. I’d been moping about, missing my family and friends and the pandemic-free life I once took for granted.

I thought the doorbell was a delivery. But it was my daughter and her 9-year-old Henry. They kept socially distant, didn’t come in the house, just want to surprise me with two early gifts: a potted narcissus (my daughter knows I love them) and a picture Henry drew (he knows I love his drawings) of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
I wish you could see them.

The best gifts of all are dreams that come true. They can show up in any form, a smile or a kindness or an unexpected visit. But they are always what we need, just when we need it.

What’s your Christmas dream?

Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924, or at