A Story Of Christmas Back In 1881

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 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?”

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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 much 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.

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  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 alright… 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 Jensen’s, 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.
Merry Christmas and God bless you!
Unknown Author
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Saying Thank You To Mom

Personalized Mother's Day Gifts

Mother’s Day is a special day where mothers all around the world are recognized and celebrated. The celebration takes many forms from house to house, and country to country, but for the most part it is a day where mothers get the chance to put their feet up and be well and truly spoiled!

I just came from visiting my dear mom who is now 86 and so bent over and almost blind. She is still trying to be so independent and wishes she could be years younger. It is an honor to be able to take care of her as she ages.

I have learned so much from her in her later years and she is a Wonderful Mother. Tell your MOM this year how much she means to you.

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If you wrote your mother a message… Would she be able to find it?

 

Top reasons to celebrate Mom this Mother’s Day.

She wore your macaroni necklaces with pride to work, the grocery store and the mall.

She had a knack for finding missing objects such as your blankie, pet frog, retainer, lucky marble, homework, or belly button lint collection. Unfortunately she is still looking for the remnants of her mind, memory, and body that once fit into size 4 jeans.

She willingly baked five dozen cupcakes for the bake sale you “volunteered” her for, and which you told her about at 8pm the night before.

She is a human calendar, keeping track of every doctor appointment, birthday, anniversary, parent-teacher conference, field trip, play date, spelling bee contest, lesson, team practice, first word or bowel movement anyone in the family has ever had.

She put up with your “self-expression” years whereby you dyed your hair, pierced body parts, tattooed strange things upon your skin, wore strange clothing and makeup, and used the word “righteous” ad nauseam.

She sacrificed going back to work just so she’d have time to be your Girl Scout Leader, PTA president, field trip chaperone, and chauffeur to every sporting event or karate lesson you ever took.

Even when you were too upset to verbalize what was bothering you, she always knew exactly what was wrong based on the volume and urgency of your heavy sobs or the amount of boogers that ran from your nose.

She loved you even when you flushed her earrings down the toilet, set the living room rug on fire, practiced writing your letters in red marker on the living room couch, or used the contents of your diaper for wall art.

She has spent the majority of her adult years in two places: the kitchen and the laundry room.

She has never had a vacation, comp time, sick day or other “break” from motherhood, and even if she were given the opportunity for one, probably would never take one.

Remember to thank your Mom on Mother’s Day. There is no love that goes deeper or which transcends time and space more than a mother’s love.

(Via celebrations.com)

 

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You Need To Spoil Mom On Mother’s Day With a Special Breakfast…..

These Handmade Vases will bring smiles to moms & grandmoms on their special day!

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Strawberry Pancakes With Cream Will Put a Smile On Her Face.   (via Thrifty Jinxy)

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Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Casserole Via Six Dollar Family

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Moms Will Love One Of These…….10 Free Printable Cards for Mother’s Day via CountryLiving.

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Print kids’ Artwork on Photo Magnets as a Gift Grandma Will Cherish. Pick Up The Same Day!

 

 

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How to make an essential oils perfume locket. (via Glamour and Grace)

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If Mom isn’t one for full-on spa treatments, then a simple homemade body scrub is still a nice gesture, and something she’ll appreciate for a long bath. This Homemade Citrus Scrub is light, refreshing and perfect for spring.

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For anyone who has a mixed family or has ever asked the question, “How will I leave a legacy for my children?” this movie StepMom  is emotional, funny and tugs at the heart in a way that everyone can relate to.

 

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DIY These Pretty Coasters Instead Of Buying Flowers For Mom. (via .brit.co)

 

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Give Mom a Coloring Book…….From beloved author and Hallmark Channel favorite Debbie Macomber, this special adult coloring book features forty-five original illustrations depicting scenes from the Rose Harbor and Blossom Street series. Unplug and let the creativity flow!

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How To Crochet Washcloths…Awesome Mother’s Day Gift Idea.

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All Natural Mists…..A refreshing spritz of fragrant water is a great way for mom to  keep cool this summer. To create sprays, simply fill mist bottles with water and a few strips of julienned cucumber or sprigs of lavender and mint.

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Mother’s Day Handprint Board Is One of My Favorite Gifts! (via LollyJane)

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Create a Gardening Bucket For Mom Via iHeartNaptime.

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Make Sure You Bake Up a Delicious Dessert For Mom and I Have One That Is Easy and She Will Love It…Turtle Cheesecake Pie. (via hoosierhomemade)

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A Mother’s Day Playlist…20 Songs For Mom

 

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Have a Fantastic Mother’s Day,

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Hi there! Thanks for visiting. We’d LOVE for you to hang around! 
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 Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

 

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