These true stories from readers like you prove that a well-timed letter, a handful of pennies, or a single gust of wind can make an ordinary Christmas a cherished memory.
BY BRANDON SPECKTOR
The Mail Train’s Gift: A Life-Changing Message
My mother told me this story from World War I many years ago. Christmas 1917 was coming, but because her brother Archie Clikeman was missing in action and presumed dead, the family was not going to celebrate.
The townspeople of Parker, South Dakota, always joked that the small-town postmaster read all the postcards whenever the mail train came into town. On that Christmas Eve, he lived up to his reputation.
The family was always grateful that the postmaster, instead of waiting for the rural mail to go out the day after Christmas, called my grandmother and told her that Archie was being held as a prisoner of war. Archie even wrote on the postcard that he was well.
Of course, my mother said, that turned out to be the best Christmas ever. Archie came home after the war and lived to a ripe old age. --Kay Johnson, Parker, South Dakota
Our Pennies Made All the Difference
Many years ago, when I was making 75 cents an hour, my three children asked for bicycles for Christmas, but I couldn’t afford them.
So that January, I put three bikes on layaway. I paid all through the year, but a week before Christmas, I still owed $14.50. The Saturday before Christmas, my son Ricky asked how much I needed. When I told him, he asked if he could pour the pennies out of the penny jug we kept.
I said, “Son, I don’t care, but I know there’s not $14.50 worth of pennies in there.”
Ricky poured them out, counted them, and said, “Mom, there’s $15.50 worth of pennies.” Ecstatic, I told him to count out $1 for gas so I could go get the bikes.
I’ve always thought of this as our little miracle. It was as blessed a Christmas as anyone could ever have. --Dot Williams, Canton, Georgia
Santa Found Us on the Road
At Christmastime, in 1961, our family was on the way from Seattle to a new assignment on the East Coast, and we checked into a motel in Watertown, South Dakota. It was not the best time to travel with young children, who were concerned about Santa finding us on the road.
We headed into town to find a store, and as our car approached an intersection, there was a Santa right in the crosswalk! He held up his hand for us to stop, and we rolled down our windows.
Santa poked his head through a window and said to our kids, “Oh, there you are! I was wondering where I’d find you tonight.”
Naturally, the kids were thrilled to pieces. They made sure we told Santa which motel we were staying at so he could find them. My wife and I had tucked away gifts for the trip, as we knew we wouldn’t have time to shop along the way.
The cartop carrier and out-of-state license plate might have been a giveaway, but whatever it was, that Santa really made Christmas 1961 a memorable one for our kids. --Dave Grinstead, Bellingham, Washington
Fate Threw a Tree at Us
During the hustle and bustle of Christmastime 1958, we told our children, ages 3 and 4, about the beautiful Christmas tree we would have in a few days. On Christmas Eve, at the bakery we had recently purchased, we counted the receipts, cleaned the shop and headed for home with our two sleepy children.
Suddenly, we remembered we had not gotten a tree. We looked for a vendor who might have a tree left, to no avail.
About a mile from home, we stopped for a red light. Suddenly, a gust of wind blew, and something hit the front of our truck. My husband went out to investigate.
The next thing I knew, my husband was throwing a good-sized evergreen into the back of the truck. He went into the mom-and-pop store at the corner where we were and asked the proprietor how much he wanted for the tree. He said he wasn’t selling Christmas trees that year.
We never did find out how the tree got in the middle of the road, but somehow we feel we know. Incidentally, it was the most beautiful tree we have ever had. --Gertrude Albert, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Our Carols Hit the Right Ears
I was with a small group of young guys and gals caroling on Christmas Eve, in 1942 San Diego, California. We wandered downtown to Broadway, the main street, and stopped at a block of green grass with a fountain on the plaza.
The streets were streaming with aimless servicemen, all missing the joy and solace of being home for Christmas.
We began singing familiar Christmas songs, and in a short time, the volume increased markedly. I climbed up onto the rim of the fountain to an astonishing sight—a sea of servicemen on the plaza singing with all their hearts. When a song ended, I started another, just beginning the words, and it was immediately picked up.
We sang every traditional song I could think of and didn’t leave the servicemen until near midnight, carrying a beautiful memory with us. --Winnie Phillips Stark, Modesto, California
For more heartwarming memories and incredible true stories from the past, check out our sister publication, Reminisce magazine. For origin of article, click here.
A. Brent Lovell