Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Our Christmas Story (True Story)

Hi friends. Linda here. I want to tell you about our strange and wonderful Christmas almost 40 years ago. Every year I think about Christmas 1970. It was the year my16 year old brother Jamie died in an auto accident almost two months before Christmas. We were trying our best to get through Christmas, then there was a miracle.

There was a family--the Porterfields--who were having a tough Christmas too. We learned their father was in the hospital and their situation suddenly felt as sad as our own. Through tears, my mother Lorraine and father Gale boxed up Jamie's clothes to give to the Porterfields who had boys about my brother's age.

Then, my mother had an idea! She decided we'd go get groceries for us and the Porterfields. Mom filled two carts with identical items for a great Christmas dinner. After we loaded the station wagon with groceries we ran over to Walgreens and purchased toys and gifts, wrapping paper, bows, scissors, and tape. We wrapped gifts as fast as we could in the station wagon, because the sun was starting to fade.

It was dark outside when we arrived at the Porterfield's house, and we were suddenly struck with stage fright. How would we approach the house? What would we say? We'd had such a fun day shopping for groceries and gifts. The day was joyful and a welcomed departure from the grief of the last 6 weeks. Finally, I volunteered to go up to the house and knock on the door.

Sweet Mrs. Porterfield greeted me at the door. I told her who I was, and I explained we'd lost our brother recently, and we were having a difficult time. I told her we brought Jamie's clothes for her boys, and if she would do us the honor of accepting some treats for Christmas. She smiled just like Donna Reed, and said yes, of course--please come in. I waived and smiled to the rest of our family sitting in the station wagon. My family emerged from the car, single file, each one carrying gifts and groceries up to the house.

Mrs. Porterfield made coffee in the kitchen, and then she took out a kitchen chair and climbed up and reached high up in the kitchen cabinet. There, she produced a plate of cookies--obviously ones she'd made and saving for her family for Christmas.

I know, I know. We put Mrs. Porterfield on the spot. But, how wonderful of her to see past all of our fumbling words and good intentions bringing gifts. Thank you Mrs. Porterfield. Thank you for helping us get through Christmas. I think about you and your family every Christmas.

The Miracle:
After Jamie died, after our first Christmas without Jamie, my mother decided she'd donate a Christmas tree to the church each year, and bake cookies, and host a tree trimming party for the youth group. My mother repeated this Christmas party in memory of Jamie for 20 years. Then my Mom started having trouble with her heart. She said she'd prayed and prayed for a sign that it was ok to give up the "20 year tradition of Christmas tree trimming party". She simply couldn't do it anymore but felt guilty. Then . . . she got her sign.

Christmas Eve at Church
We had a visiting minister for Christmas Eve service. He began his sermon by telling a story of a family who suddenly lost their son in an accident just before Christmas. And in their grief they reached out to another family who was having a difficult Christmas as their father was in the hospital. At one point, the minister said, "it was their first Christmas without Jamie". We were shocked, just shocked.

I think everyone in our little church (our little own of 200 people) were shocked as this minister told "our Christmas story". He did not know our town! He did not know our family! Mom said at first she thought someone was playing a joke and she didn't appreciate it one bit. Then she said, I came to my senses sitting there in church and I smiled . . . I had the sign I was looking for.

In case you are wondering, because I sure was wondering . . . yes, some of the congregation told the minister that the story he spoke about happened right here in this town to a family sitting in the congretation. The minister couldn't believe it either . . . to him, it was just story he'd heard or read about.


  1. Hi Linda

    Thank you for telling your precious family story. It brought me to tears. Best wishes to you and your family for a wonderful Christmas this year.

    Shelley Ross

  2. WOW...that is a sad, but heartwarming Christmas story. I have alot of stories like that too! Sometimes, I am afraid to share them because I think people think that I am crazy...BUT, when God does something miraculous in your life, don't it make you feel good to share? I know it does me!!

    Have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season.

  3. Linda,
    I've never heard that story before. But now I know where you get your kindness that you show others. May your all your familie's Chrismases be merry.

  4. Linda,

    Wow, that is an amazing story. What a generous family you come from, and what wonderful parents. I can see how such a great story made its way to that minister's ears and stayed in his heart. I'm glad your mom got the sign she was looking for in such a lovely way. And what great memories you have of something that started out so sad, yet was transformed into the tradition of bringing joy to others.

    A great story for the season. Thank you for sharing.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!


  5. * Oh, in spite of the overwhelming sadness of losing someone so beloved, the whole story itself is such a unique story of selflessness and love. It's utterly beautiful and very inspiring. What makes it even more endearing, is that it is definitely authentic...just so magically real. *