For years there were rumors of these stories, wonderful things that elves could do, but only during that special time of Christmas.

The stories were whimsical, tales of flying with Santa in a sleigh, or growing a mighty oak from a magic acorn in just minutes, or bringing mountains to a boy too sick to travel to them.

The stories sounded like fairy tales when others shared them with their loved ones. How could it be that a group of elves who didn’t know each other, led by a Chief Elf whom few had ever met, could do so much for a child or family in such a short period of time? How could they even find those that needed them?

But during that special time of Christmas the elves became more than average human souls. That’s how they could hear the pain of a family’s loss or a child’s illness above the chaos and din and clutter of an unbelieving world.

They listened. And prayed. And waited. And always, the invisible hand of God seemed to guide them to those who needed their help the most.

They learned what was needed and did their deeds anonymously. They disappeared without witnessing the joy their gifts of love brought, giving credit instead to the one whose birth they were celebrating.

The elves had learned the secret: Christmas magic only works when each of us is willing to make a selfless sacrifice to help another.

Yes, their stories were whimsical. They are also true.

But be warned: mere words fail to show the full power of what the elves learned. The magic of Christmas is very strong. It has the power to make a dying child smile, or an unbelieving adult cry.