The Christmas season of 1942 still glows for me with the vividness of a hot coal in a yuletide fire.
Two young, curly headed, blonde sisters knelt together seeking an answer. Joy had been the instigator of the plan, but Rosel joined willingly and thought it was good.
Several years earlier, our father had died, leaving our mother with five children to raise; Joy and I being the two youngest. The two oldest were our brothers, Rondo and David. In the absence of our dad, they had become our "father-figures." We missed our dad greatly.
Then came the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, followed by a bloody WWII with all the insecurities that brought blackout curtains for fear of air raids, food and gas rationing, censorship of letters and all of the other unsettling elements that come with war. David was working in a defense plant, and Rondo was off to war in the South Pacific.
As Joy, with all the wisdom of her 12 years explained it to me at age 9, "We were praying to know that Rondo would come back alive and with all of his limbs." We felt we had to know and have that assurance to bring a measure of peace to our already bruised hearts. Several windows on our street displayed gold stars showing those households that had lost sons to the war. We were genuinely worried.
Too young and too unsophisticated to recognize that it wasn't right to pray for signs, but simply as children with a need and a belief that our prayers would be answered, we sought divine help.
There was a balcony on the second floor of our grandmother's house in St. George, where we were living. I don't suppose we got an A-plus on our intellect when the "sign" we asked for was that "There would be 2 inches of snow on the balcony railing when we got up in the morning." (For those of you who don't know, snow in sunny St. George is a very rare commodity.) Reasoned Joy, "If snow came here in this hot climate, then we would know for certain that the Lord had heard the pleas of two small daughters, right?" This was our secret prayer, and we hadn't shared it with our mother. We didn't want to worry her about Rondo. In our naivete we must have supposed she had not even thought such a catastrophe could occur.
But, for ourselves, we would make sure, and then we would share with mother the good news. I can't say we just believed. Indeed, we knew we would get an answer and we trusted. The Lord must have smiled at our innocence, yet felt to reward the faith of seeking children, because the next thing I remember was Joy shaking me awake to "come and see what Heavenly Father has sent!"
I rushed outside to the balcony with her, caught snow flurries with my hands and felt the cold on my bare feet. Sure enough, the Lord had sent us more than ample proof that Rondo would come back safely from the war. Our Heavenly Father had answered our prayers with not 2 inches of snow but had added an "insurance policy" of 4 inches. He sent us "extra measure" and let our cup run over. Joy ran to tell Mother, "I know for sure that Rondo is coming back from the war and will be OK." Then we told her how we knew. Mother was overjoyed. Rondo returned, and though he was not killed he was in grave danger and was awarded a Bronze Star.I think you can see the magnitude of that event in our lives and why Christmas 1942 is so significant to us and still warms our hearts with a white-hot glow of gratitude. When the Lord takes notice of the needs of two inconspicuous little girls, what does that suggest for others who seek? If you ask us if we believe in prayer, we trust you know the answer. We received not only a sign, but "peace that passeth all understanding."
In addition to her "Christmas I Remember Best" story being selected for publication, Rosel Seastrand of North Las Vegas, Nev., recently completed her BA degree in theater studies at Brigham Young University. "I'd put off finishing my degree for 44 years, so it's a great feeling to be done," she said. Seastrand has directed community and church theater for 21 years in the Las Vegas area. She became a published author at age 5 when her poem was printed in the Childrens' Friend magazine. Seastrand has four children and 15 grandchildren. Her husband, James K. Seastrand, died two years ago.