It was Christmas 1992, and it was a bleak time.
Just eight weeks earlier, my husband had walked out the door. There were no warning signs. He was gone, and he wasn’t coming back.
I was a stay at home mom: my five-year-old son had just started half-day kindergarten and my seven-year-old had been released from the “special needs” program as not exactly “meeting the criteria”.
I was receiving minimal child support payments, but nowhere near enough to cover the mortgage, the car payment, food, etc. My parents were already suffering from geriatric issues and unable to help.
And now it was Christmas.
I was, however, an active member of my church, and they became my family. A week before Christmas I learned that a parishioner had put my name forward for the Christmas gift hamper and turkey at a local car dealership. I would have turkey dinner and treats. Under the tree there was a lovely boxed set of the Chronicles of Narnia, a gift provided by a parishioner.
It was beginning to look like we would be just fine.
On Christmas Eve, after we returned from late Mass, the boys were sleeping soundly. I sat listening to Handel’s Messiah on CBC radio, sucking the centres out of the box of chocolate liqueurs in the hamper.
In the wee hours of the morning, a knock came to the front door. I was startled but answered it. There stood my neighbour (and fellow parishioner). In his hands he held a full Nintendo System and extra games. He told me that there were too many presents under his tree and he was sure that my boys would enjoy this Nintendo more than his daughter would anyway.
I was overcome: with surprise, gratefulness, unbelief and joy!
He didn’t have a long white beard and a red jacket. He wasn’t wearing swaddling clothes and lying in the manger, but there in my doorway, the Word was made Flesh: God among us in the form of my neighbour. Astounding.
Christmas morning my boys were thrilled! The gift that Santa had brought gave them years of joy, as it did me. Years went by and the boys began to ask where the Nintendo really came from. My answer has always been “the true Spirit of Christmas”.
It was Christmas 1992, and the most Blessed Christmas in my life.
(a true story)