Emma was convinced that it was going to snow on Christmas Day. All of the Christmas movies, which we had been watching one by one, all of her books, all of the coloring books, all of the pictures, all show Christmas with snow. She was convinced. It always snows on Christmas.
We tried to prepare her for the possibility that it might not snow on Christmas. It had been a mild winter so far, not too cold, and only a few flurries. Nothing doing. She was still convinced. It always snows on Christmas.
On Christmas Eve, we looked out the window of our apartment at the barren pavement below. Her resolve was beginning to weaken. At the very least, it should snow on Christmas. When I was tucking her into bed, she announced with a hint of frustration in her voice, "I want to talk to God." That was a very direct and determined statement, so I said, "Sure, honey, we can pray any time. Do you want to pray now."
"Yes." Then she looked up at the ceiling and began to pray in a rather demanding tone, "God, I want it to snow tomorrow. It always snows on Christmas, so I want it to snow tomorrow. Please, make it snow."
I decided not to quench her fire with any theological musings about how or why God chooses to answer our prayers. I figured that if, by chance - or Divine Providence, it did happen to snow tomorrow, that would be a beautiful answer to her prayer and something that could really strengthen her faith.
It didn't snow.
On Christmas Day, Emma went to the window to see with great disappointment the muted grays and tans of city life. She turned to me with a sad, questioning, and demanding look: "Daddy, didn't God hear me?!"
Alas, instead of the serendipitous celebration of an answered prayer, we began the journey of wrestling with unanswered prayers. I explained that God always hears our prayers, but that God can't always say yes. I said it was kind of like I always hear her when she asks for ice cream, but I can't always say yes. I'm not sure if that really satisfied her, but it seemed to be good enough - for now.
Yesterday morning, we woke up and found 2 inches of snow already on the ground and more still falling. It snowed continually until this morning. Yesterday, we had a great, but fairly short-lived time of sledding on the mountain-hill behind our apartment complex. Little faces and feet get cold fast.
This morning the life-long chain of questions began again, "Daddy, why did God decide to make it snow now?"