By: Terri Keen Coffman - Copyright 1996


It was Christmas Eve, 1963. I knew Santa wouldn't be able to find my new home. It was in the middle of a jungle in Central America, miles from nowhere and anybody. There wouldn't be any tall pine tree dressed in shiny tin­sel, sporting bright, colored balls, or spicy cinnamon sticks dangling from its fra­grant green branches. There wouldn't be any of the familiar twinkling, blinking lights needed to help Santa find his way. There wouldn't be any mysterious packages wrapped in festive paper and tied with big, fluffy bows. There wouldn't be any anticipation of Santa's arrival, or the wonder and excitement of the first sight of a present-laden tree early Christmas morning. My heart was breaking! I couldn't bear the thought of no Christ­mas tree. I couldn't bear the thought that Santa wouldn't come.


Christmas morning gently nudged me awake with the soft fanning of a light breeze. Warm rays of sunshine gently ca­ressed my cheek as the squawks and cries of color-splashed macaw parrots heralded the new day. Sleepily, I stumbled out of my room to gaze longingly at the empty wall where my Christmas tree should have been. My eyes popped open wide. Squeals of utter, complete joy filled the house as I ran further into the room.


There, in the corner, a silvery bucket held a large spray of fresh bamboo. Wild jungle flowers, tucked among sinewy branches, added a myriad of bright colors to which no Christmas ornaments could compare. Dewdrops glistened and twinkled amidst the slender leaves and hung like tiny crys­tal balls off their fragile tips. Crowning the top, deli­cate snowy bridal veil and feathery maiden-hair fern em­braced a small cluster of petite mountain orchids.


Below my jungle Christmas tree lay two packages. Simple brown paper tied with string replaced the usual red and gold wrappings. But it didn't matter. In bold, block letters, my name was written on both of them! Santa had found me after all!


Exploding with excitement, I couldn't wait any longer! My trembling hands tore at the trappings that held my pres­ents from me. Salty, joyful tears trickled down my face as I hugged my treasures close. My heart bubbled over with happiness. He came! He came! Santa got my letter and he remembered! And, oh! Santa came!


A box of Kelloggs® Cornflakes and a can of sweet milk may not seem like much to most kids. But, in the jungle, one does not have easy access to civilization and oh! how I missed my American breakfasts! I dug deep into the large, overflowing bowl my mother fixed for me, and shoveled a heaping spoonful of crunchy, milk-moistened flakes in my mouth.


The deep, raspy crunching sound of the crispy cereal made it fun to eat. I plugged my ears with my fingers and chewed vigor­ously. Sounding like heavy boots stomping on a graveled road, the deep well-like effects marched through my ears. Chewing with an open mouth turned the juicy smacking into a game of skill to keep the milk from running down my chin before my greedy tongue darted out to capture each sweet drop.


Looking back, there has never been a bowl of cereal I have enjoyed so much, or a Christmas tree more beautiful, or a time more magical than that which I fondly remember as my Cornflakes Christmas.