Story of the day – My Christmas Miracle (Taylor Caldwell)

For many of us, one Christmas stands out from all the others, the one when the meaning of the day shone clearest.

Although I did not guess it, my own truest Christmas began on a rainy spring day in the bleakest year of my life. Recently divorced, I was in my 20’s, had no job, and was on my way downtown to go the rounds of the employment offices. I had no umbrella, for my old one had fallen apart, and I could not afford another one. I sat down in the streetcar, and there against the seat was a beautiful silk umbrella with a silver handle inlaid with gold and flecks of bright enamel. I had never seen anything so lovely.

I examined the handle and saw a name engraved among the golden scrolls. The usual procedure would have been to turn in the umbrella to the conductor, but on impulse I decided to take it with me and find the owner myself. I got off the streetcar in a downpour and thankfully opened the umbrella to protect myself. Then I searched a telephone book for the name on the umbrella and found it. I called, and a lady answered.

Yes, she said in surprise, that was her umbrella which her parents, now dead, had given her for a birthday present. But, she added, it had been stolen from her locker at school (she was a teacher) more than a year before. She was so excited that I forgot I was looking for a job and went directly to her small house. She took the umbrella, and her eyes filled with tears.

The teacher wanted to give me a reward, but — though $20 was all I had in the world – – her happiness at retrieving this special possession was such that to have accepted money would have spoiled something. We talked for a while, and I must have given her my address. I don’t remember.

The next six months were wretched. I was able to obtain only temporary employment here and there, for a small salary, though this was what they now call the Roaring Twenties. But I put aside 25 or 50 cents when I could afford it for my little girl’s Christmas presents. (It took me six months to save $8.) My last job ended the day before Christmas, my $30 rent was soon due, and I had $15 to my name — which Peggy and I would need for food. She was home from her convent boarding school and was excitedly looking forward to her gifts the next day, which I had already purchased. I had bought her a small tree, and we were going to decorate it that night.

The stormy air was full of the sound of Christmas merriment as I walked from the streetcar to my small apartment. Bells rang and children shouted in the bitter dusk of the evening, and windows were lighted and everyone was running and laughing. But there would be no Christmas for me, I knew, no gifts, no remembrance whatsoever. As I struggled through the snowdrifts, I just about reached the lowest point in my life. Unless a miracle happened I would be homeless in January, foodless, jobless. I had prayed steadily for weeks, and there had been no answer but this coldness and darkness, this harsh air, this abandonment. God and men had completely forgotten me. I felt old as death, and as lonely. What was to become of us?

I looked in my mailbox. There were only bills in it, a sheaf of them, and two white envelopes which I was sure contained more bills. I went up three dusty flights of stairs, and I cried, shivering in my thin coat. But I made myself smile so I could greet my little daughter with a pretense of happiness. She opened the door for me and threw herself in my arms, screaming joyously and demanding that we decorate the tree immediately.

Peggy was not yet six years old, and had been alone all day while I worked. She had set our kitchen table for our evening meal, proudly, and put pans out and the three cans of food which would be our dinner. For some reason, when I looked at those pans and cans, I felt broken-hearted. We would have only hamburgers for our Christmas dinner tomorrow, and gelatin. I stood in the cold little kitchen, and misery overwhelmed me. For the first time in my life, I doubted the existence of God and His mercy, and the coldness in my heart was colder than ice.

The doorbell rang, and Peggy ran fleetly to answer it, calling that it must be Santa Claus. Then I heard a man talking heartily to her and went to the door. He was a delivery man, and his arms were full of big parcels, and he was laughing at my child’s frenzied joy and her dancing. This is a mistake, I said, but he read the name on the parcels, and they were for me. When he had gone I could only stare at the boxes. Peggy and I sat on the floor and opened them. A huge doll, three times the size of the one I had bought for her. Gloves. Candy. A beautiful leather purse. Incredible! I looked for the name of the sender. It was the teacher, the address simply California, where she had moved.

Our dinner that night was the most delicious I had ever eaten. I could only pray to myself, Thank You, Father. I forgot I had no money for the rent and only $15 in my purse and no job. My child and I ate and laughed together in happiness. Then we decorated the little tree and marveled at it. I put Peggy to bed and set up her gifts around the tree, and a sweet peace flooded me like a benediction. I had some hope again. I could even examine the sheaf of bills without cringing. Then I opened the two white envelopes. One contained a check for $30 from a company I had worked for briefly in the summer. It was, said a note, my Christmas bonus. My rent!

The other envelope was an offer of a permanent position with the government — to begin in two days after Christmas. I sat with the letter in my hand and the check on the table before me, and I think that was the most joyful moment of my life up to that time.

The church bells began to ring. I hurriedly looked at my child, who was sleeping blissfully, and ran down to the street. Everywhere people were walking to church to celebrate the birth of the Saviour. People smiled at me and I smiled back. The storm had stopped, the sky was pure and glittering with stars.

The Lord is born! Sang the bells to the crystal night and the laughing darkness. Someone began to sing, Come, all ye faithful!

I joined in and sang with the strangers all about me.

I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all.

And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.

I have read this story many times, and I still end up blubbering like a baby. Her story rings so true (it IS true), as who among us has not had a dark time in our lives when it seems that we are all alone?

 

Janet Miriam Holland Taylor Caldwell (September 7, 1900 – August 30, 1985) was a prolific and best-selling American author. Just a few of the best known:

The Devil’s Advocate (1952)
Dear and Glorious Physician (1958)
Captains and the Kings (1972)
The Romance of Atlantis (1975)

She was an outspoken conservative and for a time wrote for the John Birch Society’s monthly journal American Opinion.

 

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26 Responses to Story of the day – My Christmas Miracle (Taylor Caldwell)

  1. czarowniczy says:

    There were two of us in our little room in Vietnam – it was December 1967, Tet was on the way. The room was small, only plywood lockers actually made the room, the front of our lockers on the right as you walked in, the back of our neighbor’s on the left, with a simple 8-foot tall 2×4 frame covered with plywood making a front wall. There was a doorway cutout that most of us covered with some sort of cloth for a semblance of privacy. Our rear wall was the actual barracks wall, pure and wide open screening from floor to ceiling with wooden louvers halfway up. As it was winter, coldish and rainy we’d covered the walls top to bottom with visqueen for relief.A

    As the room had our bunk beds and lockers we only had about 3 feet by 8 feet of floor space and even that was partly taken up by a footstool. It was the least Christmassy place you might be able to think of.

    I can’t remember where but my roomie, Ron, came up with this pathetic little cartoonish artificial Christmas tree, about 8 inches tall – looked like what the subcontinent Asian clerk at a ghetto 7-11 might put on the counter. It sat on the 2×4 horizontal stud on the barracks wall that performed as a shelf…of sorts. Our entire squad squeezed into the room that Xmas night, we’d managed to trade some contraband to the ,mess hall and they provided us with about 40 pounds of steak and a couple of #10 cans of dehydrated shrimp, and got ready to feed the barracks. We fired up the grill made from two halves of a 55-gallon drum, kit burned crappy local mango wood charcoal, rehydrated the shrimp with lister bag water, broke out our booze stash and for a few hours…
    we weren’t home but we weren’t there either.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. tessa50 says:

    Thank you for your service. Simply no other words.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. tessa50 says:

    Beautiful story Stella.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. auscitizenmom says:

    Such a sweet story. πŸ˜₯

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Gil says:

    Ive never read this but its a good story. TY Stella.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ellie says:

    My most favorite author of all time.

    What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing!

    Merry Christmas everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. MTeresa says:

    Love reading Taylor Caldwell, however I’ve never seen this piece.

    “…who among us has not had a dark time in our lives when it seems that we are all alone?” So true.

    Dear and Glorious Physician (1958) One of my all time favorite books! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thank you, Stella. Thank you, Czar.

    Merry Christmas, all! Tripod says hi.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. South Haven is almost completely silent right now. Just like every Christmas morning. The Indian-owned Marathon gas station up the street was open, thank God, because I lost my lighter last night. I may walk to the lighthouse today. (The south one…) I might even get on my bike, put the bluetooth on, and rock some Christmas music. Tripod is on my bed, curled up and sleeping, and purring.

    I’m happy, because I’m still, for some unknown reason, on the right side of the dirt.

    I spend Christmas alone almost every year, and yet I don’t. Just go out, take a walk, and talk to a lot of people who also think they’re spending Christmas alone. No, they’re not. They’re out taking a walk for the same reason.

    I thank God for everyone here at Stella’s Place, every day. You’re all an anchor.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I’ve had this song running through my head for three days, now.

    Come they told me
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    A new born king to see
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    Our finest gifts we bring
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    To lay before the king
    Pa rum pum pum pum,
    Rum pum pum pum,
    Rum pum pum pum
    So to honor him
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    When we come
    Pum pum pum pum
    Pa rum pum pum
    Pum pum pum pum
    Pa rum pum pum
    Pum pum pum pum
    Pa rum pum pum
    Pum pum pum pum pa rum
    Little baby
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    I am a poor boy too
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    I have no gift to bring
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    That’s fit to give our king
    Pa rum pum pum pum,
    Rum pum pum pum,
    Rum pum pum pum
    Shall I play for you
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    Pa rum pum pum
    Pum pum pum pum
    Mary nodded
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    The ox and lamb kept time
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    I played my drum for him
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    I played my best for him
    Pa rum pum pum pum,
    Rum pum pum pum,
    Rum pum pum pum
    Then he smiled at me
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    Me and my drum
    Come they told me
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    A new born king to see
    Pa rum pum pum pum
    Me and my drum
    Me and my drum
    Me and my drum
    Me and my drum
    Rum pum pum pum

    I don’t have much, materially. Give me a scrubbie. I can do your dishes, and I will.

    Liked by 1 person

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