The ghost of Christmases past haunted our house again in 1993. To say that we were poor, would be an untruth, but to say that money was tight is an understatement. As in years before, funds seemed to vanish, leaving very little, if anything, for gifts. This year was one of the worst.
My husband, an outside salesman, hadn’t been paid since November, when his boss left town on an extended vacation from Thanksgiving through New Years without paying his employees, and we were trying to make it on my meager salary as a State Civil Service Employee at the local Charity Hospital.
Two days before Christmas Eve, I was in the Emergency Clinic picking up charts when the topic of being ready for Christmas was opened for discussion. When asked if I was ready, my reply was that I was waiting on my check which would be available on Christmas Eve and that we didn’t even have a tree yet.
Knowing that I had three children at home, everyone was shocked!
As things were brought out in the open about my husband’s check, or rather, lack of one, I was encouraged to scrounge the barrels of toys that had been collected for needy children who came to the hospital and see if there was anything I could use for mine. Not knowing that this was allowed, I hesitated. After all, we’d been through this before and the kids were old enough to understand our finances. Continued support as well as the knowledge that other hospital employees often did this as Christmas got closer and the barrels empty save for the less desirable gifts that children didn’t seem to want anyway, encouraged me to check it out. I found things like Uno cards, regular playing cards, puzzles and other small gift items that could be found at any Dollar store. Still, it was better than nothing and I was able to pick out a couple of things for each of my children.
But the greatest gift came from an unexpected source.
Psalm 34:15 says that “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears hear their cry.” As a newly recommitted Christian, I knew the Lord would provide something, though I never imagined how He would do it.
Upon leaving the clinic area, I returned to my desk in Admitting to finish up the necessary paperwork before returning the charts to Medical Records. I hadn’t been at my desk for more than a few minutes when I was called by a nurse to meet her in the nurses’ lounge.
Since this particular nurse was one of my favorite people to work with, I didn’t hesitate, not knowing that the incident would be one that would live in my heart forever.
Upon entering the lounge, I found her nearly in tears. “I hope I don’t embarrass or humiliate you,” she began. “But I’d like to give you something.” With that, she handed me a check. “When I was newly single, I needed tires for my car and a new friend, a stranger really, gave me fifty dollars to buy them,” she said, as I, too humbled and, yes, embarrassed to say anything, just looked at her; tears welling in my eyes.
“He told me not to pay him back,” she continued, “but to return the favor by doing something in kind for someone in need whenever I could.” By this time, the tears were flowing freely between us. “I was going to give you the fifty, but I found a little extra. I don’t want you to pay me back either, but do the same for someone whenever you can,” she concluded
Without even looking at the check, I put it in my pocket. We embraced and returned to our perspective work stations. The next morning over coffee with my husband, I told him the story and we opened the check to find it in the amount of one-hundred-dollars.
One-hundred-dollars doesn’t buy a lot, even in 1993, but it was more than enough to share the miracle of Christmas with our children and we were able to send a small gift to our daughter that lived out of state.
The very first thing I did was go out and buy a tree; a pitiful little display item that had been knocked over and kicked around but was the only one available anywhere. The kids and I strung popcorn and they made ornaments called The Eye of Jesus (or God’s Eye) that they’d learned to create in Catechism.
It was one of the most memorable Christmases I’ve ever had.
The gift this dear lady gave was more than money, it was affirmation…proof that my God shall supply all of my needs according to his riches in glory through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).
Extra money is still a rare commodity in our house, but I’ve managed to pay the gesture back numerous times, and I will continue helping others in need every chance I get; for there is one Truth that can’t be denied….You CAN NOT out-give God!
Through all the years of change, I have only one Eye of Jesus ornament left and I still hang it on the tree. It is a physical reminder of the blessing and miracle of Christmas, of how God used this angel of mercy to impact the lives of a newly recommitted Christian and her family; and a spiritual reminder that the eye of the Lord is upon the righteous and His ears do hear their cry!
MERRY CHRISTMAS FRIENDS!!!
Pamela S Thibodeaux
"Inspirational with an Edge!"