A CHRISTMAS STORY/ NO TITLE OR AUTHOR

This is what Christmas is all about…

 

Better bundle up – the goose bumps will freeze you!! I think 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, so 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 mu ch 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 away.

  

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!

 

 

 

 
 

BOTH THESE MEN WOULD PROBABLY BE HIGHLY INSULTED . . .

First of all I want to apologize to both Mitt Romney and Fabio, (if that’s how you spell it) but I just really need to make this observation. Here’s what happened. In order to avoid having the parking problem I had yesterday, I started out early this morning to do my errands. I needed some cellophane bags and I headed to Zurchers first thing and was happy to see it was open at 9:30 just like I had gambled that it would be. So far so good. I hurried inside, happy as well to see that there were very few other customers. That meant that I could grab what I needed, check out quickly, and race to my next errand.

But who should be there to greet me just a few yards to the left of the front door? The two men I just mentioned, one in his nice suit, with his Chairman of the board hair, and the other, with his customary bare chest, long flowing locks and some kind of a loin cloth if I’m remembering right. You can probably guess which was which. And okay, you’re right. I really didn’t see these two in person. If you’ve been to Zurchers you’ve undoubtedly seen those stand-up cardboard doll things that look so life-like. Well, I’ve got to say that when I saw these two standing there right next to each other, I did a double-take, because here’s what I couldn’t help but notice. Mitt Romney and Fabio look unbelievably a lot alike. I mean other than their differences in style, (which are obviously significant) these two look like they could be members of the same family. Seriously, their faces are almost identical especially through the eyes. Put a suit on Fabio and send him to the barber, and we have a Mitt look-alike.  In fact, it struck me with such force that I asked the clerk if she’d ever noticed the similarity. “Mitt Romney and Fabio could pass for brothers,” I said.

The clerk wasn’t thrilled with my observation and was NOT amused. “Well, I’m sure they’re not!” she huffed.

Ha ha. I got the impression she was mistaking me for a democrat who was insulting Romney. I wasn’t. I like Romney. I was simply making an observation. But then the little devil on my shoulder was tempting me to become a trouble-maker and push the issue just because she was taking this so seriously.  He was telling me to say,  “Really, how do you know for sure? They might be.” —just to get a little more reaction. But I controlled myself. It’s December and a Saturday and I knew the poor woman would probably have plenty to contend with as the day progressed. She didn’t need to have issues with her very first customer. So I just kept my mouth shut. I didn’t even say, “Well, obviously!” Because seriously, did she really think I thought Mitt Romney and Fabio were brothers? The idea was and is so ludicrous that I’m smiling a little at how these two would react to my observation. I’m guessing that like the clerk, they wouldn’t be amused at being accused at looking like twins separated at birth. But then on the other hand, maybe they’d think it was funny. I mean can you imagine? Those two…brothers? Ha ha ha. There’s no way those two would be brothers! They could never be brothers . . . . right?

Jesus wants you to judge

What are your feelings about this post? Matt Walsh isn’t afraid to say what he thinks even if it’s controversial. He makes some good points.

The Matt Walsh Blog

I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the Ten Commandments. My favorites is the one that says “Thou shalt not judge.”

Oh, that one isn’t in there, you say?

Sorry, it’s easy to forget nowadays, especially in this country where many Christians carry on as though the entire Bible could be summed up by the phrase, “it’s all good, bro.”

In actual fact, there are a lot of urgent truths and important moral lessons in the Bible. Interestingly, almost all of them have fallen out of favor in modern American society. Here are just a few verses that aren’t particularly trendy or popular nowadays:

(WARNING: Politically incorrect truths ahead)

“Whoever harms one of these little ones that believes in me, it would be better for him if a millstone where tied around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the ocean.”

“Before I formed you in…

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KIND OF A POOPY DAY FOR THIS DAD

One of my sons-in-law who was a leader of men in the service and even earned an award for valor, is now facing life in the more everyday civilian world. Yesterday, my daughter let me know, was a not such a great day for him.

Anxious about an important presentation coming up, he’d showered, shaved, and dressed carefully. At the last minute, he decided to trim off just a little off the sideburn area of his hair with his electric clippers. That’s about the time his youngest son, our three-year-old grandson, raced up to him. Unfortunately, the little guy has been having some potty-training challenges and had just had an “accident.” He’d taken off his dirty clothes and was pretty much running around naked, making it easy to see that he was covered with, yes, the brown stuff.

Concerned about making contact, my son-in-law pulled back his arm. This jerked the razor, causing him to take out a good chunk from the side of his hair.  Aaaaargh! He could immediately see this wasn’t something he could even out, or fix. He’d need to get to a barber before his appointment! But his son was still running around and needing immediate attention.  Hoping my daughter could come up and help, he called downstairs. No luck.  She was changing the baby she tends on Wednesdays.

Realizing it was up to him, my SIL did what he had to do–hurriedly cleaned up the little boy. Next he cleaned himself up and changed clothes. Then he rushed out and in mere minutes was getting an extremely short haircut, reminiscent of his army days.

A half hour or so later, despite his unusual haircut, he was feeling good about how the presentation was going, until, that is, the potential client asked, “What’s that on your shirt—that brown spot?”

“Brown spot?” My son-in-law hardly dared look down. “Oh . . .” Sure enough there was a good-sized brown spot right there on his shirt. And, of course, he knew exactly what that brown spot was. White lies sometimes just slip from our lips when we’re under pressure or duress. It happens to the best of us. My son-in-law heard himself mutter something about hot chocolate.

“The problem is,” he let my daughter know later, “Hot chocolate smells better than what was on my shirt.” He told her that during the remainder of his meeting he was sure he smelled bad, very bad. “Stink” was the word he used.

“He’s hoping the presentation ended better than he thinks it did,” said my daughter.  He didn’t have much time to think about it, however, because he had a second appointment not long after the first one. He raced up to change his clothes again, this time grabbing a new suit he’d just bought the week before. Again, he rushed out the door.

It wasn’t until after this second presentation that my SIL realized his pants were split—significantly. When had it happened? He wasn’t sure. He guessed it had probably happened when he threw them on in such a hurry. He guessed his pants had been split during the entire presentation.

And there you have it—a different kind of day of combat, not even close to being as life-threatening or dangerous as some of those days in the service, but well, not exactly good times.  As far as I’m concerned, the guy is still a hero—the hanging-in there Dad kind of hero.