What could have been the nightmare before Christmas turned into jolly holiday for a single mother and her five children - thanks to four local families who pulled gifts from under their own Christmas trees in the waning hours of Christmas Eve.

It was about 10 p.m. Christmas Eve when a woman called the Deseret News: She and her five children, ages 1 to 15, had been signed up to receive Christmas presents through Sub-for-Santa. But when the presents arrived that night, her 14- and 15-year-old sons and a 9-year-old daughter had been left off Santa's list.Coincidentally, Salt Lake resident Jan Lewis had called earlier that evening wondering if any families still needed help with Christmas. At that time, all of the families who had signed up for assistance had been accommodated.

After talking to the upset mother, an editor called Lewis, who agreed to help. But there was one huge problem. "At that hour, there were no stores open. None," Lewis said.

So Lewis got on the phone. She called her brother, Jim Lewis, who lives in Sandy with his wife and six children. She called her dad, Leonard Lewis. And her sister, Katie Lewis, and her family.

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"All my nieces and nephews ended up giving up some of their unopened toys," Jan Lewis said. "Dad had a fishing pole he gave up. My nephews had some electronic toys, and each had a football. My niece gave up a paint and art set, and another niece gave a new outfit, a bunch of books, a sled and a game. And we all gave a lot of food."

While the effort may have been last-minute, she calls it the best part about Christmas. Everyone in her extended family got caught up in the spirit of giving - giving up something of their own for someone else.

"We just kept wondering how we could do this on Christmas Eve. But it was so sad to think of these three kids who weren't going to have Christmas," she said.

"It was the best Christmas for us, too. We always get a lot of stuff, and it was nice for all of us to see there are people who don't have as much as we do and maybe help out a little bit."

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