Tuesday, 29 November 2016

# Christmas Stranger

The Christmas Stranger


 
It was Christmas 1943. My three brothers were away fighting in the war. At home were my
mom, dad, my two sisters and me. Most of the country was still struggling from the Great Depression and our family, stuggled more than most. We didn't have grand dinners or breakfasts, or expensive presents. We had to save all year in order to buy presents and they had to be items that were needed--not desired. Buying people what they wanted was a luxury we had never had.

As on every Christmas morn, our parents would not let us get up until 6:am. We knew it wasn’t
6:00 because we had not the heard the nearby 6:00 am train arrive yet.
After what seemed like hours, we finally heard the train’s whistle in the distance and jumped out
of bed, eager to open our gifts–but breakfast first.

We had just sat down to eat, when we heard a knock on the door. We all asked, “ Who could that be so early on Christmas Day.” My dad opened the door and we saw a shivering stranger covered with snow, wearing no overcoat, gloves, galoshes, hat or scarf.

“Please excuse me,” he said. “I just got off the train and I noticed your light was on. Could I please come in and get warm.” My parents immediately asked him to sit by the fire and have breakfast with us. While we were eating, the Stranger explained that he had been out of work for months, but after hearing they were hiring in our area, he left his wife and children in Denver promising he would send for them once he found employment. Being extremely poor we could sympathize with this man. But as poor as we were, we felt sorry for him, because we had more than he. We didn't have a lot in the way of presents and hesitated to celebrate with the meager things we had, when this man had nothing.

Noticing our hesitation to open our gifts, father took us aside and said. “I don’t know what you
have bought for me, but if there are things that will fit this man, I want you to give them to him”
Luckily we had bought some gloves, socks and a wool cap. My mom sent us girls out to round up galoshes and an overcoat from the widows in our neighbood, knowing that they had hung on to their husbands belongings, either out of sentimentality or necessity.

After the Stranger had a chance to clean up , my father took him to meet some contractors. They returned with good news. My father’s boss hired the Stranger and advanced him enough money to rent a furnished apartment and enough to send some home to his wife.

Later, after we had eaten Christmas dinner, the Stranger left to arrange things in his apartment.
We spent the rest of the day visiting friends, relatives and neighbors.

That night, after we had climbed into bed , we heard another knock on the door. We dashed
down the stairs. When we opened the door, we found only a box full of oranges. We strained
through the snowy darkness to find a clue as to whom had left them. For an instant we saw a man pass under the street light. It was the Stranger.

We were touched by his generosity. And just as he passed out of the the street light, he passed
out of our lives. Every Christmas ,I wonder if he ever knew the impact his humble request had on our lives or how special he made that Christmas so long ago?

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