Yes, Danielle, there IS a Santa Claus
In Pearlington I am called “Canada Jon” but in the circle of Dream School International, my heart’s creation for the past decade, I am known as “Big Dreamer.” The Soviet press once labelled me so, calling me “nothing but a big dreamer.”
The name stuck and I am proud of it.
So, when I was sent the tale of 16-year-old Danielle Larsen, from Huntsville, Alabama, whose story of “That House” in Pearlington was posted to Sharing Pearlington on December 19, I knew I was in the energy of a fellow Dreamer. When the previously-unknown owner of the home responded from Dallas two days later, I knew that Magic was afoot. And, when it turned out that Danielle’s family was going to be in Dallas visiting family for Christmas, and when Mr. Gardner’s daughter entered the scene by email, I knew that this was a Dream in the making.
A check into her background reveals Danielle as a caring, generous, creative and determined person who, in fact, Dreamed her way (as well as her family’s) to Pearlington in the first place. These are the qualities of a Dreamer and they are the birthright of us all. This is more than the story of a child who went to Mississippi a girl and came home a woman. This is the story of a Dreamer who will now turn her Dream into reality in a magical and creative way and will never take NO for an answer.
The world seems filled with Dream Stealers - we all have done it - who tell us from the very start to “get real,” to “grow up” or to “settle down.” Yet, the purpose of childhood is to constantly learn, to stretch and to challenge ourselves to become more than we were the day before. I long ago rejected the notion this world was “real,” in the same way I rejected the notion that my God was “false.” Danielle, and many of the young people we have watched transform in Pearlington, remind us that somewhere deep inside us all is a child yearning to fly - to stretch our glorious wings and to aim for the stars.
The real Magic of Christmas is not the turkey nor the tree, not the presents nor the presentation, not even the birth itself of Jesus Christ. He was born so we might live, and live truly. He was born that we might shake the very foundations of the known and reach for immortality. He taught us that no Dream is ever too big, no Dreamer ever too small.
In a cynical and disparate world where cultures clash and each believes that their truth is surely THE truth, there are the Danielle Larsens, who Dream big and listen only with their hearts and souls. It is what brought this Big Dreamer to Pearlington so many months ago, along with almost every other volunteer I’ve had the pleasure to meet there since.
Dream on, Danielle. I am beside you like so many others; as you renew our faith, hold up the mirror of your youth and call us back to our rightful place.
Yes, Danielle, there is a Santa Claus.
Oh I believe there are Angels among us,
Sent down to us from somewhere up above;
They come to you and me in our darkest hours,
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give,
To guide us with a light of love.
- “Angels Among Us”, the rock band Alabama