A Christmas to remember

A Christmas to remember

This heartwarming true story was submitted by a Townshipper who wished to remain anonymous

In the month of November, shortly following the conclusion of the Second World War, a young lad was arriving home from school, and innocently found himself involved ln a family dilemma, that would change the course of events in that year’s Christmas celebration. The parents of the lad were hard working people, still trying to climb out of the negative financial shortages caused by the Great Depression and the War. The boy, around which the circumstances of this event would revolve, was in his early teens, and for the sake of the anonymity this author desires, we shall call him Stan. As he came through the front door of their home, he saw that his mother was busy on their old dial phone, and while usually she would cheerfully turn to blow him a kiss or give him a big smile, this time he noted that she just rather perfunctorily, gave him a little wave over her shoulder, without even turning around. He did sense that she was deeply involved in some serious discussion, that, he figured was none of his business, so he climbed the nearby stairs and changed into his play clothes. While doing so, he was able to hear some more of what his mother was saying on the phone, and sensed that she was on the verge of tears and appeared to be pleading about something. He knew that she was terribly upset about something. When he had completed his changing of clothes, he descended to their kitchen where his mom was now seated, and asked his mother what was that all about. She softly, but somewhat brusquely, told him that he was too young to understand . So he shrugged his shoulders and went on his way. Later, when he came back into the kitchen, his mother was sitting pensively at the table, and asked him to come sit with her. She apologized for the way she had spoken to him, and told him that she had some very bad news to share with him, but asked him to promise her that he would not say a word to his brother and sisters, who were all younger. He readily promised, but wondered what could possibly be so secret?

Holding back tears, she told him that they were not going to be able to have any Christmas that year, that the one with whom she had been talking, was the credit manager of the large mail order company, from whom for years they had been ordering all of the clothing, toys, games, and other thigs that they wanted, to be there under the tree at Christmas. She explained the system that she knew he would have difficulty understanding. Over the years, she explained, they had ordered items that they needed, and then paid a certain amount each month, throughout the year. They had done this for quite some time, she said. But over the years, as prices rose, they always sent the same amount every month, and had built up a large bill that the company could allow to continue. So, she continued, the credit manager informed her that the company was insisting that they pay the entire outstanding amount, or they would not send her order for this Christmas. She burst loudly into tears as she told Stan about this, explaining to the boy that such was completely impossible. She said that she offered to send a bit more each month, but the credit manager said firmly that it was all or nothing at all. Stan impatiently shouted out his distaste for the credit manager, but to his surprise, his mom said softly, that the credit manager was just doing his job! So Stan pathetically asked his Mom, “What do we do now?” His mother simply resignedly, answered, “We will make Christmas the best that we can, but it will be very different, and I hope that you can help us make it as happy a time as we can for your brother and sisters.” She asked if Stan understood, and he said that he did, but inwardly he said to himself, “What can I do? I’m just a kid!”

On his way to school the next day, he knew that his mom and dad would not want the whole neighbourhood to know about their predicament, but he needed to talk to someone. So, asking his pal walking with him to not tell anyone else, he blurted out the whole sad tale. A nice part of our story is that the friend never did tell anyone else their age, but in his concern, he did tell his parents. When Stan got home from school that day, his Mom told him that his friend’s father wanted him to call. She said that he didn’t say why.

This is where the story expanded in a beautiful way, and makes it worth the telling!

It seems that the area in which they lived, had been hit by a fierce rainstorm some years before and had flooded many of the homes in that vicinity. The friend’s father told Stan that the flood had ruined all of their children’s toys among other things, and were still in their basement waiting for someone to turf them out. Stan had done yard work for the man, so thought perhaps Stan might do him a favor and dispose of them for him, suggesting that Stan might know of someone who could fix up the “junk”. He never let on that he knew what Stan’s family was going through. So Stan saw it as a nice way to help his friend’s father, and asked his own father to go with his pick-up truck and help him remove the eight peach baskets full of muddy and broken toys. As they were driving back home, his father asked him if he had any ideas who he was going to ask to take the stuff away? Whether his dad had made any suggestions as to what could be done with them, I will never know, but I do know that Stan asked his dad if he could go to work with him for the next six Saturdays prior to Christmas so that he could turn the toys and other items into presents for his brother and sisters.

His father thought that that would work out just fine!

And so transpired six weeks of washing, scrubbing, sanding, rebuilding, painting, cannibalising, and everything else needed to make the toys and other things suitable to make his brother and sisters happy in time for Christmas. Mom and Dad did find a way to fill the stockings for them, plus a few assorted items. At work Stan’s dad provided technical advice and taught him how to use the tools there, and his boss’ wife washed and ironed the dolls clothes, but this was really Stan’s show, and no one tried to steal his thunder! The boss told Stan that anything in the workshop was his to use, and that was a big help. The varieties of paint colors were slim, but no one seemed to complain! Stan’s father never fretted either when Stan felt he needed more time at the end of each day!

And on that last Saturday before Christmas, by the time they got home, the tree was up, all the decorations around, and three younger sibs were sound asleep in their beds upstairs. They did not see what awaited them until they got up the next morning and saw scads of boxes all neatly and beautifully wrapped under the tree, and toys too big for boxes there too, like the Erector Set, the beautiful doll in her lovely dress, and even, if I remember correctly, a set of Lincoln Logs, all perfectly tagged, as though Santa knew who needed what!

It was a fabulous Christmas, and long remembered. And perhaps, best of all, when someone asked Stan what he got for Christmas, making his mom wonder how he would answer that, until she heard him say, with a smile from ear to ear, “The happiest Christmas that I ever had!!”

(This true story was submitted by a Townshipper who wished to remain anonymous)

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