Boy's letter lifts family's holiday spirits after thief steals their Christmas display

Nickole Jones had sworn off Christmas until she got a letter from a 9-year-old.

The magic of the holidays can bring people together -- but for one family, it was a little boy who helped them remember just what Christmas is all about.

For the last four years, the Jones family in Downey, California, had put on a very memorable Christmas display known as the "Nightmare Before Christmas."

"People come from all over to see it!" Nickole Jones told ABC News recently.

She'd gotten the idea for the display's theme from her own love of Disney movie villains. Plus, the Jones family always had a love for Christmas -- a big celebration for them.

"The kids loved seeing the lights and we would always go out and find light displays to watch so we decided to take my love of 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' with traditional Christmas and make a display that was different and interesting so people would love it," she said.

The mother of 4, including twins, Jones said she also felt called to do something special for all the other kids growing up in the neighborhood.

But then the Jones family experienced their own holiday nightmare in December 2018, when someone stole a piece of the display from their lawn. The culprit was captured on the family's home surveillance.

"We had five pieces stolen last December before Christmas and in that moment I vowed to never do the display again!" Jones said. "I was so angry and violated and thought, 'Why am working so hard for someone just to come in and steal our hard work?'"

The stolen pieces were hand-painted wooden cut-outs of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" movie characters Sally, Oogie Boogie and the trick-or-treating Lock, Shock and Barrel, she said.

"I didn’t care about Christmas anymore at all," Jones told ABC News.

The family seemed committed to skipping their annual tradition of decorating for the holidays -- until Oct. 2, when Jones received a letter in the mail.

The letter had been sent to the Jones family from Santiago Macias, 9, who told ABC News that he'd been heartbroken to hear on the news that someone had stolen the decorations from a home he and his family had gone by, particularly for its holiday displays. Santiago, a fourth-grader, also included $20 that he'd saved up in chore money to help fund the missing display pieces.

"The display brings Christmas spirit to all the boys and girls," Santiago told ABC News. "I thought the $20 would help her out."

Jones said she immediately had a change of heart about Christmas decorating, after she read his note.

"I instantly thought we have to do this even if it’s just for him," Jones said.

About a month later, after looking for Santiago and his family everywhere, Jones found him through his mother Mary Macias on a Downey community Facebook page where people post positive things.

Jones immediately reached out and the two set up a time for both families to meet. When they met, Jones said she reassured Santiago that the decorations would be going up soon.

And, keeping her promise, the decorations were lit up on Monday.

And, "Oh my God! It's so pretty!!" was Santiago's response to seeing the house finally made up.

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