Where Charity stands watching,
And Faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,
And Christmas comes once more.
Merry Christmas and good morning earlybirds! I hope you are off to a warm and memorable start this day. And I hope you will forgive my reposting my favorite Christmas story from two years ago Christmas Eve this morning. It is a special memory for me and my wish for this day is that it makes you feel a little like it makes me feel when I am reminded of it…
My adult life until age 39 was a significant financial struggle. We always had a roof over our heads and never went hungry, but there was never anything left for extras. That changed a bit when I retired from the military and moved back to the Richmond – Chester, Virginia area for a position at a new power plant. But suffice it to say that Christmas was never fun for me those early adult years because of the burn it left in my wallet.
Oh, I loved giving gifts to the kids and watching them enjoy them. But financially it pained me. For several of those years I used to have to go find work on my annual vacations in order to make it through the rest of the year. One might say it was a "Bah Humbug" time of the year for me. But, again, that changed after I retired from the Army.
This sets the scene for my Christmas Eve sometime around 1995 or 1996. I had gone to work that day. It was a relatively short work day. On the way home I needed to stop at a grocery store. We had most of the fixings for the Christmas dinner the next day, but still needed a couple of small items. At the time there was a store - a Safeway I think - across from and just south of the DuPont plant on Route 1. It wasn't in the nicest of areas but it was on the way home.
So I took Jeff Davis highway home from the plant and pulled in there. While parking my car I observed a young man in his early-to-mid 20s and a young woman and a child about 3 or 4 years old in the parking lot. The young man was carrying a hammer, a flashlight, and a level - all worn and used. I watched him from the car a few minutes as he approached customers trying to sell his used tools.
I had parked far enough away to avoid them. Success can bring about a little coldness I suppose. It is my nature to avoid these folks. So I went in the store and bought my $20 or so worth of Christmas dinner items and left. On my way back to the car I crossed paths with these individuals and he canvassed me to purchase his tools. I still didn't trust him and turned him down but as I looked at him and the young woman and child he said something that touched my heart. He said, "I don't care what it takes, my wife and son are going to have a turkey dinner for Christmas." He was so embarrassed and beat down but very determined.
I continued to the car and drove to a different place in the lot. They didn't see this. I went back into the Safeway and bought a small turkey and the fixings and maybe even a pecan pie and a few extras. As I walked out to the parking lot, I found them and walked directly to them. I didn't say anything - just gave a warm smile. I just held out the bags of groceries and the turkey for them.
The young woman started crying and hugged me and the young man’s eyes lit up tearfully and he offered me the tools. I thanked him and declined his offer but wished them well.
That was my very best Christmas ever because of what I had done. And I am thankful that decades later I can still reflect on it and share this experience with others like you. Merry Christmas to one and all! I hope these holidays bring all of you good health, continued success, and happiness! Pat Cathers