Public Speaking Event for Homeschoolers

Last night we attended a public speaking event hosted by a local home school group. When I had mentioned the event to my kids, they all said they did not want to participate, but would like to go and listen to the other kids. Andre kept on telling me through the day that he was not going up there to make a speech, even on the ride over to the meeting place, he said it again! I reassured him that we were only going there to watch, listen, and show our support to the other children.
After the first few speeches, Andre whispered that he wanted to go up. He said he was going to share the Christmas story that he wrote a couple of years ago. I was really surprised and asked him if he was sure, and if he remembered it enough. He said yes!
Once his age group was called, he put his hand up and went to the podium.
I couldn't be prouder of what came next. Andre delivered his story clearly, not too fast or slow, and it felt like he had everyone's attention. He seemed very serious up there, but then his story is a bit sad, with a sentimental ending.
I remember when he first gave me the story, it was in December 2007. We had paused our regular homeschooling work and were doing some Christmas-theme learning. I had the kids write a short story and this is what he wrote:

The Day I Saw Santa
By Andre Dekerf - December 3, 2007

The snow was falling on Christmas Eve and I heard some bells in the distance.
I woke up and ran to my window.
I looked out and I saw people ringing bells and singing.
I looked up and saw Santa riding on his sleigh and I saw his eight reindeer.
Then he landed on our roof. I quickly hopped in my bed and went to sleep.
The next morning I found I had no presents.
There was a letter for me. It said “I am not giving you a present because you saw me”.
I burst into tears. I knew that I would never get a present.
But then I realized I had not lost something.
I had my family and it was mine to keep forever.
The end.

I had tears in my eyes when I first read his sweet short story, and again last night when I listened to him share it with the audience. It's so simple and short, but right to the point. We have always tried to teach our children that family is very important, and that time spent together was precious. I was so happy to see that Andre, at 8, already understood that. That Christmas, we printed his story on paper, rolled it and tied it with a red ribbon. We gave a copy to each of our family members that we visited.
Last night was a success for Andre, but also for each of the home school kids that went up, battled their nerves, and presented their own speeches. Some recited poems, others had personal stories about fishing or hockey, even braces! It was great to see and listen to all of them. After the speeches, all the kids played and the parents got a chance to chat. A great night!