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Return of the Snowmen: A True Christmas Story

Okay, like most of my posts, this isn’t short, but it’s definitely sweet!  This very week last December, we had Christmas lights stolen from our front yard.  Right after we’d gotten them and put them up.  It was a real bummer.  But I decided to do something about it that felt right to me.

I wrote “An Open Letter to Our Grinch” (we had just watched the cartoon special on tv the night before…my inspiration) and sent it in to our local newspaper, The DeLand Beacon.  They published it, unbeknownst to me…and a few days later, those lights turned back up at the bottom of our driveway.  That blew me away!

I’d done what I needed to do to really “let it go”…and they came back!  Along with my faith in my fellow human beings.  

An Open Letter to Our Grinch

‘Twas the night of December 7th

and all through the house

We were minding our business,

unaware that a louse

Was outside stealing Christmas lights,

decorations and such.

We went out around midnight

to turn out the lights and much

To our surprise, our little blinking snowmen

in their Santa hats were gone!

Our own Grinch had struck,

and he didn’t leave one.

Now what would we tell our young daughter, Hayley,

who loved those little snowmen

blinking red, blue, and green?

Would we tell her “How awful!

How Grinchy! How mean!”?

You bet! But then we thought harder

and reminded ourselves

Of that old Grinchy story and the moral it taught.

What had the thief stolen,

and what had he not?

We could say “So what if we can’t

replace them or find them?

Our Grinch can take Christmas lights,

not the meaning behind them.

Decorations are just symbols,

you can’t steal what they stand for…

This season for us is about peace and believing,

About honoring, sharing, giving and receiving.

It’s about remembering the entry

of love and light into the world.

That’s what those lights were,

that’s what they still are.

We hope that wherever they are,

they are on. And if so…

That somebody, somewhere, is enjoying the show.

We wish you peace, love, and happiness

more than you know.

Life’s too short to hold grudges,

to let darkness dark near.

So to our Grinch, Merry Christmas

and A Happy New Year!”

Yours truly, Anita and Don Sanz


Here is the local news story written by Barb Shepherd.  The wonderful picture above was taken by photographer Marsha McLaughlin.


By Barb Shepherd

They’re just silly little things, really, plastic discs in the shape of snowmen.  Lighted at night, they make a cute holiday decoration.

But the journey of these plastic snowmen gave one Deland family a chance to explore the deeper meaning of Christmas.

The Sanz family had managed to snag enough snowmen to decorate their driveway before the store ran out.  The snowmen were part of a cheerful display that is especially meaningful to Hayley Sanz.

But then the snowmen were stolen.

“We were pretty bummed,” Anita Sanz said.

She and her husband, Don Sanz, are both psychologists.  They have a private practice and teach at Stetson University.  They thought carefully about how to talk about the theft with their young daughter.

“We really did not want the message to be: How awful people are, what a bad place this is to live,” Anita Sanz said.

The Sanzes decided, instead, to talk with Hayley about the importance of not becoming attached to material things, and about always looking for the positive angle.  They even wrote a letter to The Beacon, wishing the snowmen’s new owners happiness from the little lighted discs.

“We had to think: What’s the reason you put these things out in the first place?” Anita Sanz said.  “I did not want to go through the whole season feeling bad.”

And then the snowmen were returned.

“I don’t know how they turned back up, but they did,” Anita Sanz said.

But not before the family–maybe two families–learned a Christmas lesson.

“Stuff is stuff, and this whole season is not about stuff,” Anita Sanz said.  “It’s about good feelings.”


Here’s our final thank you to our Grinch:

More on the Grinch:  A Note of Thanks!

A great deal of thanks to the person,

though nameless,

who brought back our snowmen.

We know you are blameless.

The snowmen came back to our

driveway late Sunday night,

and it was truly a pleasure to see them alight.

Perhaps our Grinch’s heart

grew three sizes that day,

or a warmhearted Samaritan

sent them our way.

Whatever the case, we say “thank you” again,

The true Christmas spirit still lives in DeLand!

Anita and Don Sanz


I can’t think about what happened without getting a warm feeling inside…hope it does the same for you!  Merry Christmas!

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