By Bob Crampton

Hello Santa,

We need to talk.  Actually, maybe I need to talk and I’d like you to listen.  

You see, in 2016, right around Christmas time, you brought cancer to my 25-year-old son.  Maybe he wasn’t perfect all that year but that was one big ol’ lump of coal you delivered.  It was hard for him to understand why you did that.  It really tore his poor ol’ Momma slap up.  We all kinda had to sit down and scratch our heads on that gift.  

But you know what’s funny? At the bottom of that ugly, nasty gift box we found something else.  We found faith.  We found hope.  And I know you’ll not believe this; we eventually found joy.  

After having his hip torn up and put back together with screws, duct tape and some baling twine we heard, “As of this moment he’s cancer-free”.  Boy, were those nice words to hear.  

Four months later, after some scans, we heard something much, much worse:  “You have malignant, Stage 4 lung cancer and it's inoperable."  

You see, earlier we learned his cancer didn’t react to radiation or traditional chemotherapy so we just heard “you're out of luck and/or time”.  Let me tell you Santa, hearing those words and knowing what we knew . . . well, it just doesn’t get any darker or sadder than that.  A parent watching their first-born being given a death sentence — there isn’t a hell worse than that.  

But you know what Santa? Remember that old saying, "It’s always darkest before the dawn"?  Remember those other presents we found in your gift box? Faith showed up.  We found a clinical trial way down in Miami, Fla., which showed some promise.  

We didn’t know how we’d get to Miami and back home for all the treatments.  We didn’t know how we’d afford the airfare, the hotels, the eating out and the other expenses.  

Do you remember the 3rd gift, Santa? Remember hope?  Hope has a name.  Don Stansberry and his father Don Sr.  Hope has a thousand faces.  Charles and Kelly Anderson, Cathy Kemp and literally hundreds more.  They gave us hope.  

The clinical trial was rough.  The travel was brutal, the cost was bruising, and the emotions were pretty raw.  But the trial worked.  Slowly, the cancer started shrinking.  

One more surgery and we were an acronym: NED. NED is cool. NED is nice. NED is No Evidence of Disease.  We stopped the trial after the surgery back in August. We had scans just last week. Still NED. 

The last gift you brought back in 2016 was joy.  When we look back as we await your visit this year we have joy.  Joy in knowing that Faith & Hope sustain us.  Faith that a gracious and benevolent God holds us in His grip and Hope that we continue to bask in His glory. 

So Santa, I really don’t care what you bring me this year.  I don’t care.  I’ve already gotten the greatest gift you’ve ever given.

Bob Crampton is a native Scott Countian and a graduate of Scott High School. He currently resides in Braselton, Ga.