I hope your sleigh is redy. Please bring me a nice mom. I think it would be nice to have a mom. She will do my hair. Because I have never had a mom that would take care of me and I think it would be nice. Moms can ride horses better than my dad. I wont be mean and I will go to college! I dont even want to go to college but I will if I get a mom Please!! She will be nice and is a horses lover like me.

It was one of the hundreds ... a Letter to Santa mingled in among the Christmas wish lists sent to The Rogersville Review. The letters listed all those latest toys and gadgets that kids wish for this time of year.

But this letter was different. Penned in scrawling second-grade handwriting, it was a letter from the heart of a child whose simple request should serve to remind us all of what we may have taken for granted.

For me, her letter brought back memories of long ago, memories of another little girl and a horse – and a mom.

I can still see my mother, standing on the back porch watching as I saddled my horse, opened the gate, and rode off on my usual 12-year-old adventure. It was those horseback adventures that I loved most in my pre-teen world, and I cherished the time I had on back of my Appaloosa pony.

It was my own private time, and one that I didn’t want to share with anyone – including my mother.

Back then, I saw her oversight from that back porch as just that – a mother watching my every move, pushing herself into my preteen-girl world, and casting her ‘nosy’ eyes into my business.

Like most other kids, I didn’t always appreciate my mother’s intervention in my life. As a kid, I grumbled when she made me brush my teeth, when she combed the tangles from my hair, when she made me do my chores, or when she insisted that I go to Sunday School every Sunday without fail.

I complained about all those ‘mother’ rules that I saw only as interference, often seeing her as an intruder in my little world.

But all that changed the day my first child was born.

Through the years that followed, I began to see my mother through different eyes – eyes that seemed to look back at me in the mirror more and more.

I thought about her when I sat in the school stands at every opportunity, watching my own kids play sports, or cheer on their team, or receive awards for their achievements.

I was there at their first dances, and when they went to prom, I was there to see them in their right-of-passage event, to watch them share those dances with their dates. I was there to watch them walk out in their shiny finery holding the hands of the ones who were lucky enough to bring them there.

At times, it occurred to me that my kids may have seen my presence as intervention in their lives, a nosy-mother intrusion into their teenage worlds.

But I was wrong.

Through the years, they have told me just how much my presence meant to them. They’ve shared with me how they looked for my face in the crowd in the stands, how they listened for my voice of cheers when they got their awards, how they always, always knew that – if at all possible in my busy world – their mom was there.

A few years ago, my mom succumbed to the disease she had struggled with for so long, leaving behind five kids who never questioned her love for them.

But I never told my mother all that she meant to me. I never told her how very important to me she was, or how much I thanked her for tucking me in at night, for tying my shoes, for brushing my hair, for buying me that pair of designer jeans that I insisted I had to have.

I never thanked her for taking me to piano lessons, or for listening to hour after hour of awkward practice — and acting like it was the finest music she’d ever heard.

I never thanked her for making sure that I did my homework, for insisting that I said my prayers and went to Sunday School, for cooking her special soup for me when I was sick — or even for watching over me as I rode off on my horse for my little-girl adventures.

I never truly thanked her for just doing all those things that moms do for their kids.

I’ve thought about my mother often this past week after reading that letter from a little girl who doesn’t have one – a little girl who, when all other kids her age are listing the latest electronic gadget or Star Wars® action figure or Disney® character doll, wants only to have what so many of us have long taken for granted.

This Christmas, while we enjoy the trees and the gifts, the tinsel and the lights, the cookies and the egg nog, let us hold our kids a little tighter, love our families a little deeper, hug our loved ones a little longer. Let us all take time to be thankful for those around us, for all those in our lives that we often take for granted. Let us take time out of the hustle and bustle that has become the Christmas season to be thankful for our dads and our kids, for our grandchildren and our siblings, for our friends and our loved ones — and for our moms.

And let us take time to tell them so.

And to those kids who will wake up on Christmas morning to a tree filled with all the things they wished for on their lists this year, remember this:

While you are playing with your new video game or talking on your new cell phone, while you are wearing your new designer jeans or playing with your new Elsa® doll, while you are riding your new bike or watching your new 72-inch TV, remember to never take for granted those who were there to make sure you had the very best Christmas they could give you.

And in the coming New Year, when your mom watches you from the stands, or in the crowd, or at the prom, when she ties your shoes or combs your hair, when she makes you brush your teeth or say your prayers or do your homework, or when she stands on the back porch and watches you saddle your horse and ride away to some new adventure — when she does those millions of things that mothers do – just remember how very lucky you are just to have one after all.

Dee Ann Campbell is Editor/Publisher of the Choctaw Sun-Advocate in Gilbertown, Ala.