[MOL] Fw:Lesson of Christmas [00558] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] Fw:Lesson of Christmas

Hello all. thought this was really appropriate for the MOL forum, because there are so many here who give of their hearts and love to the ones that need it. Take care.
----- Original Message -----
From: Wade Brinkman Sr
To: Wendy ; Todd Hagerman ; Tina Musser ; Tammy Lauer ; Sue Jones ; Spike ; Scott Ray ; Patty Chambers ; Patrick Mullen ; Pat Singleton ; Mike Rodman ; Mark Gayheart ; Karen Miller ; John Bales ; Don Tilley ; Deb and Mimi ; Dave Nissen ; Chad Czaja ; Bob Campbell ; Bernie Behnke
Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2000 9:40 AM
Subject: Another tear jerker

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 so bad that year before
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.  So 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 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," hesaid.
"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 thehouse.

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 the big 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
sideboards on.
When 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 the 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?"
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, then
he turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring enough in to
last for a while.  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, 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 and so much
gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak.  My
heart swelled within me and a joy filled my soul that
I'd never known before.  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 himself 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, and I was glad
that I still had mine.  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 he 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 older brothers and
two older sisters were 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.

So, Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little
candy for those children.  I hope you understand."
I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again.
I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done
it.  Just then 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 Jensens, 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.