Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Christmas that Wasn't Going to Be

"Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars, and children are from some other galaxy." -- my daughter after spending the afternoon at the doctor's with the little one, again!

My blogmates, Amarinda and Kelly challenged me to tell them what happened Christmas 1965. Unfortunately, I have no idea--probably because Christmas 1964 cast such a long shadow over the Christmases to come for quite a while. However, they relented and agreed that Christmas 1964 would suffice. The end of that year was an incredibly turbulent time. In November on my fourteenth birthday, President Kennedy was assassinated. It was in the beginning years of the Vietnam War. The Cuban Missile crisis was not long before that. Uncertainty was everywhere. So herewith, the story of Christmas 1964.

Christmas 1964. That was the year that Christmas wasn’t going to bring even one gift…we thought. It was a poor financial year. I didn’t exactly know that we were poor. We had plenty to eat. We had clean, warm clothes. We had a warm, sheltering apartment in Chicago that my stepmother, Maxine, worked hard to make a haven for us.
As a parent now, I realize how difficult it must have been then for her to sit us down a few weeks before Christmas and explain that there wasn’t any money for gifts. If all the money she had managed to save was pooled, we could have a special Christmas dinner.
Solemnly, we considered the dilemma, and then one by one, we agreed that a special dinner was the best use for the money we had. Once that was settled, we put it behind us and life went on.
One day, a couple of weeks before Christmas, Mum told all of us to hurry home immediately after school, as there would be a surprise. Friends of the family planned to bring each of us a gift and wished to be present when we opened ours. So on this day, I slung my books into my locker at school and rushed home. Pounding up the stairs to our second floor apartment, I eagerly flung open the door—and froze in my tracks.
Every level surface in both the dining and living rooms was covered with gifts. Beautifully, lovingly decorated gifts. A tree twinkled merrily in the corner. The melodies of familiar Christmas carols filled the air. Unexpectedly, Christmas had come to our home.
I could not imagine what had happened. Certainly, we hadn’t gotten rich overnight. I walked around the room gently touching the lovely boxes. Mum, more excited than I had ever seen her, urged me to look in the kitchen. Two boxes of groceries, a ten-pound ham, fifty pounds of potatoes, and a five pound box of chocolates. A special Christmas dinner indeed!
A little later we opened the gifts. Of all the Christmases in my life, this is the one I can remember every single thing I received. Not because I was a greedy kid, but because they were all gifts of sacrifice from strangers. Our family friends were a minister and his wife with a church in Indiana. One of their church families approached them, seeking a family that wasn’t going to have any gifts for Christmas. The parents and children of this church family voted to give up their Christmas gifts so that a family, unknown to them, would have a special Christmas.
The minister and his wife undertook the responsibility of obtaining clothing sizes and special needs, plus transportation and delivery of the gifts. And they delivered our heartfelt thank you letter to the anonymous family.
As Christmas grows closer, whether we are rich or poor, I look back on that Christmas and know that we are blessed because we are together. Every year I remember the blessing of being loved unconditionally by strangers.
A miracle.


Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website. All final entries must be in by December 21st at midnight EST.

Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners.
The prizes –1st prize--6 books
2nd prize--4 books
3rd prize--2 books
All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
JacquƩline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves
Don't forget to drop by Amarinda's blog at as you never can tell... she might have the next clue. And if not, she's still have something interesting to say about life. Then pop over to Kelly's blog at for her Sunday Quote... and of course she just might have the next clue, too! Blessings on your day!


  1. gave me chills that was so touching...

  2. Gee Anny, even a jaded old bag like myself has to admit to a moment of being touched after reading that. Christmas 1982 tomorrow please.

  3. Oh my gosh, Anny, that brought tears to my eyes.

  4. Thabk you for that wonderful story Anny!! You brought tears to my eyes too.

  5. What a wonderful, unbelievably touching story - brought tears to my eyes.

    This represents the true meaning of the season, thanks for sharing.

  6. Thank you to all who commented. I enjoyed sharing the story of this special Christmas as it displays the true spirit of giving.

    Amarinda, 1982 will have to wait until Tuesday as I'm reviewing Anita Birt's book, Isabelle's Diary, tomorrow. But never fear, I'll get to 1982.

  7. That is a wonderful story, and most likely brought the true meaning of Christmas to all of you. It humbled me 3 years ago when my parents had to give me money to shop with; otherwise, we'd have had nothing. It's going to be slim again this year, but we'll still have a good one:)

  8. Beautiful, Anny.

    I request 1979. Can you muster it up for Wednesday?

  9. I have similar memories, Anny. Thank you for sharing them. Sitting here tonight wrapping gifts for nieces and nephews reminded me of those Christmases when we really had no hope of Santa finding our house that year.

  10. What a beautiful story Anny. I took a name from the Christmas tree at the church today and I'll buy a present for a little girl. It could have been me or you or a friend years ago.

  11. I don't think you've posted a Christmas story yet, that hasn't made me cry.