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O/T A Great Christmas Story

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by jerryw, Dec 20, 2008.

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  1. jerryw

    jerryw TS Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    This is what Christmas is all about....

    I need to read this every year at Christmas.

    Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who
    squandered their means and then never had enough for the
    necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need,
    his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him
    that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from
    giving, not from receiving.

    It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and
    feeling like the world had caved in on me because there
    just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that
    I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that
    night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a
    little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

    After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched
    out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get
    down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for
    myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to
    read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he
    bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it
    out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't
    worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in
    self-pity. Soon Pa came back in.. It was a cold clear
    night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on,
    Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight."
    I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the
    rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the
    cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd
    already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of
    anything else that needed doing, especially not on a
    night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at
    one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do
    something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got
    my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious
    smile as I opened the door to leave the house.
    Something was up, but I didn't know what..

    Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of
    the house was the work team, already hitched to the big
    sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going
    to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell.. We
    never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul
    a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in
    hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold
    was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was
    on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in
    front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I
    think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said.
    "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a
    bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low
    sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do
    would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.

    After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the
    woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood
    I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and
    then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What
    was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked,
    "what are you doing?" You been by the Widow Jensen's
    lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two
    miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so
    before and left her with three children, the oldest
    being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what?

    Yeah," I said, "Why?"

    "I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out
    digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few
    chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said
    and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for
    another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the
    sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would
    be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our
    loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took
    down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to
    me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When
    he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his
    right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his
    left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked. Shoes,
    they're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny
    sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the
    woodpile this morning. I got the children a little
    candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a
    little candy."

    We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in
    silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing.
    We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we
    did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left
    now was still in the form of logs that I would have to
    saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We
    also had meat and flour, some we could spare that, but I
    knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them
    shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this?
    Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't
    have been our concern.

    We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and
    unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took
    the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked.
    The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who
    is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt, could we
    come in for a bit?"

    Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a
    blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were
    wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the
    fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any
    heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and
    finally lit the lamp.

    "We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set
    down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table.
    Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it.
    She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one
    pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for
    each of the children - sturdy shoes, the best, shoes
    that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her
    lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears
    filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks.
    She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say

    something, but it wouldn't come out.

    "We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He
    turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last
    awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this
    place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back
    out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat
    and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in
    my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids
    huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing
    there with tears running down her cheeks with so much
    gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak.

    My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never
    known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas
    many times before, but never when it had made so much
    difference. I could see we were literally saving the
    lives of these people.

    I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits
    soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them
    each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a
    smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long
    time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she
    said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I
    have been praying that he would send one of his angels
    to spare us."

    In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and
    the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought
    of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow
    Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably
    true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never
    walked the earth. I started remembering all the times
    he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many
    others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

    Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we
    left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how
    he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if
    he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would
    make sure he got the right sizes.

    Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when
    we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his
    big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and
    didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed
    their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

    At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The
    Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for
    Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than
    the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous
    if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by
    to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some
    little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been
    little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two
    brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved

    Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles.
    I don't have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for
    certain that He will."

    Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep
    within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had
    gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you
    to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a
    little money away here and there all year so we could
    buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough.
    Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from
    years back came by to make things square. Your ma and
    me were real excited, thinking that now we could get
    you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to
    do just that,but on the way I saw little Jakey out
    scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in
    those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I
    spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those
    children. I hope you understand."

    I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again.
    I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done
    it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of
    priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given
    me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant
    smiles of her three children.

    For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the
    Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and
    remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding
    home beside Pa that night.. Pa had given me much more
    than a rifle that night, he had given me the best
    Christmas of my life.

    Don't be too busy today. Share this inspiring message.
    God bless you!
  2. locdoc

    locdoc Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Antrim, NH
    THANK YOU, Jerry.

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