A Christmas Story: 2012 Style
By Tom Anselm
(Editors note: This weeks column is a reprise of last years Christmas offering. We do not usually do this, but this story warrants retelling. Merry Christmas!)
I had just scored a great deal on wrapping paper at Walgreens, and Jill was working on some presents for a family we were helping out through our daughter Katie’s school. Not being much good at the task of paper and tape, I decided to pop in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
This little piece probably comes closest to the perfect movie about the event that changed the world. It is one of hope and joy, forgiveness and love. And as Linus told the age-old story, I wondered about that night, and what it might look like if it happened today.
It was so, so cold. Not just chilly, but bone-reaching cold. The man was upset. That beat-up car they’d borrowed from his cousin was about to give up.
They had just driven hundreds of miles to see about that carpenter job he found on the internet. With the housing market so bad lately, he’d been laid off from three jobs in the last six months. And now with a baby on the way, well, it was no time to be out of work. On top of that, it looked like his wife Mary might be starting into labor any minute.
“Oh, Joey. I’m afraid it might be tonight,” moaned the young woman.
“I know, hon. Maybe that motel up ahead has a room, and we can find us a doctor,” he said, trying to sound hopeful. He pulled the overheated Chevy into the lot, and took a deep breath.
“Wish me luck, darlin’,” Joseph said, as the “No Vacancy” sign flashed above the front door.
Mary did more than that. She prayed, hard, to the Father of her child. This boy was going to be something special. The angel told her so back home. And once she convinced Joseph that she wasn’t out of her mind, and then he had that visit in a dream from the same angel, they knew. Of course, most of the townsfolk were scoffing behind closed doors at their story. But that didn’t stop them from believing. As her prayer ended, her heart sunk as she watched her husband slowly walk back to the car. Joseph climbed in, and put his head on the steering wheel.
“This is not good. They have nothing available. Some convention in town, something going on. But the old desk clerk said he knew of an abandoned farmhouse about a mile down this side road. We could check it out, at least for tonight. And his sister’s best friend, she’s a midwife. Said he’d give her a call, have her look in on us.”
Mary was touched by the concern of the stranger. It heartened her, made her feel things just might be okay. “Well, at least we’ll be dry. We can make a fire… old farmhouses always have nice fireplaces,” said the girl, trying her best to raise the man’s spirits.
As they pulled up to the house, the light drizzle turned to snow.
Joseph brought in their meager belongings, and made up a bed by the hearth with a sleeping bag and some pillows. Mary managed to get a nice fire going and soon the dampness was turning. They shared a few of the canned sausages they bought at the Quickie Mart earlier. Mary had little appetite, in anticipation of what was to come. They drifted off to sleep, arm in arm, to the crackling of the fire.
Joseph awoke to a new sound. His wife was in pain! The baby was coming. He set a few broken pieces of an old chair on the fire to heat a pan of water he’d rigged above the flames.
“Hurry, Joey… it’s coming.” The man bent low to help the young girl. No time to go for that midwife now. Slowly, the small room filled with a bright light, brighter than any they’d ever experienced. Then a soft hum, as if a children’s choir was singing. Mary cried out once, twice, and the light and sound gradually dimmed.
And there He lay. The man and woman knew this was a special moment. This child was The One. As they gazed in wonder, there was a shuffling at the door. The desk clerk, his sister, and the midwife poked their heads in.
“I… we heard this singin’,” said the clerk, “and saw what looked like a sunrise, only it was midnight. So we hurried down here, but it looks like ya’ll are okay.”
The man’s sister knelt by the mother, as her friend busied herself with the water and some towels. The old man set down a basket of fruit and chips and chicken sandwiches.
“We brought you a coupla gifts. Thought you might be hungry.”
And so it may have been. No matter the time, no matter the age, His coming is marked by light and love, warmth and generosity. So may it also be this year, for all of you.
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