Our Christmas Miracle
Sharla hurried to finish cleaning the house before Carlton got home. After finally paying off the hospital for the birth of the twins with his last paycheck, she’d be able to go Christmas shopping with this one, and it was barely in time. There wouldn’t be a lot left when the bills were paid, but she should be able to get a ham for Christmas dinner and buy each of the five children a toy. Their celebration wouldn’t be as large as in past years, but it didn’t have to be so bleak.
The door from the garage burst open, and her husband stomped his feet on the rug before stepping on the freshly-mopped kitchen floor. She turned a hopeful smile toward him.
"So how much money will you be able to give me?"
A frown marred his handsome face, with hurt radiating from his eyes. "I am so sorry, hon. There’s nothing to give you."
Horror mocked her. She tried to hide it, but couldn’t keep her disappointment from showing. "How come?"
He strode across the room and pulled her into his arms, almost smothering her in his exuberance. He clung to her as if she were a life raft and he were drifting at sea.
She leaned back in his arms and studied his face. Something was terribly wrong.
Holding her to his side in one arm, he thrust the other hand through his unruly waves of brown hair. "I really hate to tell you this. . .Anne is closing the company. This is my last paycheck."
"Closing the company?" Her voice rose with the panic gripping her. "How come?" The last came out in a squeak.
He stepped back. "You know the economy. . ." His voice trailed off because that said it all.
She raised her clenched fists to her hips. "She hadn’t said anything was wrong before."
Shaking his head, he pulled her back into his embrace. "She didn’t want us to worry. She thought her brother could help her pull it out of the jam, but he’s in a bigger financial mess than she is. We’re not the only people who’re feeling the crunch."
"But the kids." What else could she say?
"I know." The huskiness in his voice told her he was as close to crying as she was. "Where are they?" He glanced around probably just now realizing the house was too quiet.
"Marti took them home with her so I could shop alone." Sharla remembered her sister happily bundling all five into her six-year-old compact car earlier in the afternoon. "She said it was the only way she could help us. They’re just barely getting by."
Carlton stepped back and shucked off his coat. "Let’s sit down and talk. Okay?"
For her man of few words to want to talk had to be serious. She followed him into the den and sank onto the overstuffed sofa beside him. He slipped his arm around her shoulders, and they sat in companionable, but heavy, silence. No sense in hurrying him. He usually thought everything over carefully before making a statement. He must have really been thinking a lot since he found out, because he quickly jumped into the discussion.
"I’ve been going over pastor’s sermon on Sunday."
When he paused too long, she prodded. "And?"
"This recession didn’t surprise God. And He’s in control. I don’t understand what he’s doing, but you remember that scripture about Him not forsaking His people and His children not begging for bread."
"Yes." She wondered where he was going with this.
"And Christmas really is about Jesus coming to earth, not about getting presents."
Sharla wasn’t sure she liked the direction the discussion was taking. She could understand, but would the kids?
"We can do things to make our celebration really about Jesus, and we can get the kids involved. . . .I’m not sure how." He kissed her forehead, then her cheek. "I know it’ll be hard, but we have to do it. It’s the only way to have a good holiday."
Sharla couldn’t fall asleep that night. With only a couple of days until Christmas, she didn’t have much time to pull anything together. Soon ideas started popping into her head. They could go caroling around the neighborhood. Drive to some other neighborhoods with lots of ligthts. Even dress up and do a live nativity scene on their front lawn on Christmas Eve. Finally, slumber visited her.
When she awoke just before dawn, everything on her body ached. She’d tossed and turned most of the night. She wondered how Carlton slept through all of it, but he still snored on the other side of their king-sized bed.
After shrugging into her thick robe, she went to get the paper before the neighbors would be out. She had a hard time pushing the front door open. Something was in the way. Finally, she could slip through the opening. Several boxes sat on the front porch. Maybe they had been delivered to the wrong house.
She reached inside the house and click on the porch light. One, two, three, four, five. She counted them silently. Most of them didn’t have a mark on them. No address. Nothing. But an envelope was taped to the last one. She leaned over and read Taggart Family.
Without hesitating, she pulled it off and opened it. A printed letter on plain paper.
God told me you would need these things, so I bought what He showed me. Please accept them as from Him. My blessing is in being used by Him to give anonymously during the holidays. Merry Christmas. The note also contained that scripture Carlton had mentioned last night.
Sharla picked up one of the boxes, but it was really heavy. She tried another one that was lighter and carried it into the house. She set it on the couch in the den and went to awaken Carlton.
After he carried all the packages into their bedroom, they closed the door, hoping none of the children would wake up. Such an abundance of things were revealed as they opened each box. Several wrapped packages for each of the children. A couple of packages for her, and the same for Carlton. Enough food for a month, including a ham for Christmas Day. And in the bottom of the final box another envelope that was thicker than the other one. Her husband handed it to her to open. When she noticed the money, she couldn’t stop crying long enough to count it. She just knew it was several hundred dollar bills.
Carlton pulled her close to his chest and his tears dripped into her hair. She didn’t care. A miracle had happened. Their family would have Christmas and a start on the new year. Who had to worry about the economy when they had God on their side?
©2008 - Lena Nelson Dooley
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What year did Lena start writing professionally?
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