An Unexpected Christmas Visit and a Sparkling Jewish Star

By Susan Ford Collins

Two weeks before Christmas, my friend Sharon came to take temporary refuge in my home. She and her husband had ended their ten-year marriage under very painful circumstances, and she was feeling lonely and abandoned.

I was having a hard time helping Sharon through it all until suddenly early Christmas Eve morning, I was awakened by an unusual voice. "Susan, I need your help."

Was I dreaming or was I awake? Either way, standing in front of me in the dim light was Sharon’s beloved father-in law who had died several months before. "Susan, I need you to do something special for me. I want you to find a Jewish star to give to Sharon for Christmas. It needs to be old and silvery like me," he chuckled, "but alive and sparkly like her. Please wrap it beautifully, as I know you will, and attach this note: "Merry Christmas from Lou. I love you dearly, Sharon, now and always and I am grateful for the openness to Judaism you showed our family so I want you to have this Jewish Star." I was startled by this extraordinary visit and grateful that I had met him shortly before he died.

I was eager to do this favor for Lou, but I had no idea how I would find the old silver, sparkly Jewish star he had described… and do it on Christmas Eve! Wide awake, I quickly got dressed and started rushing around getting everything ready for tomorrow’s family celebration at my home until an electric-charged feeling alerted me to head for a consignment shop a few blocks away. The sensation was so urgent that I immediately put aside my tasks and got in my car.

The shop sold used clothing so it seemed like a long shot, but I was way past thinking logically at this point! When I got there, I walked around the shop several times slowly remembering Lou’s description, looking up, down and around until I finally saw exactly what Lou had described—a silver marquisette Jewish star—in a glass case almost completely buried under a pile of old newspapers. "I want to see that piece! I think it’s exactly what I’m looking for.” The owner took it out and told me about the young woman who’d left it there the day before. With my brain pounding, I quickly paid, asked for a box, and headed home to finish my Christmas preparations… making fresh cranberry-pear sauce, mashing sweet potatoes, prepping vegetables, thawing turkey and making pies.

On Christmas morning when everyone had arrived, I told the kids to tell their parents to sit down in the living room so they could start opening their stockings and presents. As the kids tore the wrappings off their gifts, Sharon sat quietly until I pointed out “a small box under the tree with your name on it.” Earlier I had whispered to everyone that there was a surprise present (shhh!) for Sharon so the room fell silent in anticipation. With a stunned but delighted look, Sharon quickly walked over and picked it up. Before she opened it, I asked her to read the note out loud for all of us. With tears in her eyes, Sharon listened as I told everyone about Lou’s early morning visit and the words of love and gratitude he wanted me to give her.

In the months that followed, whenever the pain of Sharon’s disrupted life overtook her and the unclarity of her future overwhelmed her, she held Lou's star to her heart and no longer felt alone. She knew somewhere, in another realm, the man she considered “her true father” was still with her.

Are energies in other realms able to reach out to us? Lou's present that year was the answer to that question. Yes, they can. And they still love us dearly.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email

* For more on Self-Confidence, read Skill 1 in The Joy of Success and Our Children Are Watching.

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