When Natasha Bell was born, she might as well have come out of her mother’s womb with jingle bells.
“Born on Christmas Day! My baby is born on Christmas Day!” her mother said, wrapping her in a Christmas stocking.
“You share your birthday with King Jesus,” she said to her daughter, placing a Santa hat on her daughter’s head. “This means that you’re a princess, and you’ll be able to do good everywhere and change the whole world!”
Of course, Natasha’s mother might have overestimated her daughter’s ability, but Natasha never realized that. By the time Natasha was age 10, she thought she ruled the world. Even if she wasn’t a real princess, it didn’t stop her.
“I was born on Christmas Day! I’m a princess!” she said to friends and strangers. “Let me help you with that . . .”
Everywhere she went, she spread love and kindness to people with all kinds of serious problems.
“The world is full of problems,” Natasha said, “but no problem is too big for a king, and I’m a princess.”
When someone would tell her that she wasn’t a princess, she reminded the person of her Christmas birthday.
“Didn’t you know that I was born on Christmas? This changes everything! I share my birthday with the King,” she said. “No matter what, I can change anything for the better. What problem do you have? How can I help you?”
“Why do you think that you can help me? Why are you acting like such a know-it-all?” random people said to her.
“Ignore the naysayers!” Mrs. Bell said, smiling at her daughter’s enthusiasm and encouraging Natasha toward greatness.
At Christmastime, Natasha visited the shopping malls to meet the Santa Clauses in the displays. A line of children would start from Santa’s House and extend through the middle of the mall for several city blocks. The children wanted to sit on Santa’s knee, tell him how “nice” they had been that year, and ask for Christmas gifts. Then they posed for the annual photo on Santa’s lap that went in the family Christmas card and hung on the refrigerator.
“Since I was born on Christmas, I should stand at the front of the line with you,” Natasha said to the mall Santas. “In case you miss a request, I can write down the children’s needs and make sure that they get fulfilled.”
“My manager is going to get angry,” one Santa Claus said, scratching his beard. “Stand where she can’t see you!”
When the manager came by, Natasha ran behind the Santa’s chair and hid until the stodgy woman in high heels passed. One afternoon, Natasha’s nifty jingle bell necklace jangled as she ran to hide, and the manager found her out.
“Little girl! What are you doing?” the shopping mall manager said, pulling Natasha’s ear. “Get at the end of the line.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Natasha said, moseying herself to the very end of the line until the manager went home for the day. Then Natasha marched right back to the front of the Santa Claus display line with her clipboard and pen.
“Who cares what my manager told you!” the mall Santa said. “Natasha, you can help me make my daily photo quota.”
For days, Natasha gave the best advice she could on everything from how to pick a puppy to where to get a bargain. “Merry Christmas!” she said, insisting on being in the photos with the Santa and the unruly children.
Several of the parents forced screaming kids to sit on the Santa’s lap, and Natasha had to wipe tears and dry noses. “Smile!” she said, as the light bulbs flashed over and over, blinding her eyes. “I’m a princess born on Christmas!”
On Christmas Eve Day, a little boy with a baseball cap sat on the Santa’s lap, crying because he didn’t have a baby sister.
“Mom said that she can’t have another baby, and I want a sister, and I don’t know why I can’t have one,” the child said.
“I only do this for the money,” the Santa said. “I can’t promise anything. I must have heard 30,000 kids by now!”
“Are you really Santa?” the little boy said. “If you were real, you would be able to give me anything that I asked for!”
“I feel real,” the Santa said, shifting in his red, mall throne. “I’ve been kicked in the shin so many times today . . .”
“Could you please tell my son to stop sucking his thumb?” the little boy’s mother whispered in Santa’s ear.
“Lady, like many mall Santas, I’m Jewish, and I celebrate Hanukkah, but I’m doing the best I can with the kids in the mall. The holidays are all about goodwill. Try to have some goodwill,” the fairytale Santa said. “If you don’t stop all the commotion, I’m bound to get fired and replaced with some other well-meaning old guy in a costume.”
“That girl who thinks she’s the Christmas princess is forbidden in this line!” the manager said, marching at Mr. Claus.
“Don’t worry, I was born on Christmas Day,” Natasha said, hiding from the looming mall manager behind Santa’s chair as the woman slipped him his work schedule for next week. “I’ll be your sister. I’m a princess!” Natasha whispered.
“I’d like to have a sister born on Christmas who’s a princess,” the little boy said as the manager eyed him up and down.
“Oh, please, I have toys to sell and better things to do than listen to this nonsense,” the manager said, leaving in a huff.
“If you’re my brother, then you’re a prince,” Natasha said once the manager left. “Anyone who is my sister or brother would also be a princess or a prince. We can change the world together! My mom told me, so it has to be true.”
Every year after that, despite the mall managers, Natasha collected new sisters and brothers in the Santa Claus lines until she had a kingdom—A kingdom of princesses and princes who all were related to the King, and that made all the difference in the world. Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!
Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters