As children we are sometimes oblivious to what our parents are going through. Especially at Christmas. Dad used to tell this story in his inspirational lectures before he had the stroke. Perhaps it’s time I share it now, with some modifications.
We had just moved from tropical South Texas to the Philadelphia area. Dad’s work had transferred him to what I felt was an alien planet — cold, bleak and unfriendly — but my siblings and I adapted.
As Christmas approached, we were excited and rambunctious.
Little did we know that even though dad now had a better job, making ends meet was difficult because of the move. I was 10 years old and had no idea we might be poor.
My mother was worried about Christmas. Dad kept telling her to have faith.
“But we don’t enough money for toys, a Christmas turkey … or even a tree.”
“God will provide,” he assured her.
My mother trusted God but she also knew that we would expect toys and a Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve day, my father phoned my mother from work and said he had an extra $10. In the early 1960s, that amount of money could buy a great deal. Not enough for a tree or toys. But at least we’d have Christmas dinner, he told my mother.
On the way home from work, my father stopped into a church. He knelt and prayed. He thanked God for taking care of his family. He asked that this be the best Christmas ever for his wife and children.
He held back tears, not knowing how God was going to do that, but his faith was deep and strong. He knew God would answer his prayer.
As he walked down the aisle, a man approached him.
“Sir, my wife is ill. I have an infant son and I’m out of work. We have nothing on this Christmas Eve. If you can spare even a dollar, I would be so thankful.”
My father stood there, not knowing what to do. He needed this money for his own family. But it was Christmas Eve and this man was in need. Dad dug into his wallet and handed the man his last $10.
“Go and take care of your family. Merry Christmas.”
The man began to cry.
“God bless you, sir,” he told my father, hugging him.
As dad left the church he wondered what he was going to tell my mother. He knew she’d be upset. When he got home and shared what had happened, she looked at him with tears in her eyes.
“But what about our Christmas?”
A knock on the door interrupted their conversation. The neighbor across the street and his adult son stood there, holding a huge, fresh-cut Christmas tree.
“We’re not sure you could use this,” said our neighbor, “but my son came into town for Christmas and didn’t know we already had a tree and bought this one. Can you use it?”
“Yes, we can!” my father said, thanking him, as we all stood there, our eyes growing wide.
Then came another knock. The local volunteer fire company was delivering Christmas dinners, complete with turkey and the trimmings. My father was having a difficult time settling us down at all the excitement.
“But what about gifts for the children?” my mother whispered, as we decorated the tree.
“God’s come through so far. Just wait.”
My mother still wasn’t sure, but at least she knew we had a tree and a Christmas dinner.
Later that evening, as it grew colder and a soft snow fell, my mother thought she heard another knock on the door. When she went to open it, she found two huge boxes, brimming with wrapped gifts.
“Someone must have known we were in need and delivered them,” my mother whispered.
I still remember that Christmas. Life was hard and we may have been poor, but in hindsight, I see how rich we were. My parents gave us the greatest gift of all — one of faith, that all things are possible with God.
We witnessed firsthand the true meaning of Christmas, how God was manifest and born through the love and kindness of neighbors and strangers.
And God had answered dad’s prayer after all. It was indeed the best Christmas ever.
Thank you all for the gift of your readership and presence here. I wish you and your loved ones a joyous Christmas, a blessed holiday season and a Happy New Year!