Tuesday, December 22, 2009

God Provides a Way

I finished my shopping today. At least, I think I did. And you know what? I had fun doing it. I went out with a smile on my face. (It may or may not have had something to do with the fact that I'd left the kids at home.) I made a conscious decision to be that person who brightens the day of others. Instead of avoiding eye contact, I purposefully smiled at everyone. I wished people a merry Christmas. I started conversations with the cashiers and fellow shoppers in line near me. I put money into the Salvation Army bucket like I always do, but this time I stopped to talk with the gentleman ringing the bell. I've seen this same man ringing the bell at least 5 times this past month as I went to the grocery store. We chatted for a few minutes and wished each other a merry Christmas. And you know what? I had fun! And I know that people walked away from our encounters with smiles on their faces. Oh sure, they might have been smiling to themselves because they thought I was nuts, but I'm going to pretend that a little cheer from me brightened their days and they went on to smile at a stranger in the next store, and he went on to chat with a cashier in the next store, and so on and so forth.

Just be careful when you're out spreading holiday cheer. At one point, I had something in my eye and was blinking like crazy. I rubbed my eye and blinked some more. It still bothered me. I squinted my right eye and blinked a few more times. A little old man, comparing toothpaste brands and prices, looked up at me and, with a smile, winked back. "Oh no! I wasn't winking at you. I mean, you seem like a lovely man and I AM trying to spread holiday cheer today, but my eye, I have something in my eye. My eye hurts. I was just trying to get it out. By winking. But not AT you. Just winking in general. In fact, it wasn't really a wink at all. It was really more like a squinty-eyed blink. Honest. Ahem. OK, so I'm going to finish shopping now. Have a merry Christmas," I stammered as a quickly pushed my cart away. Leave it to me to inadvertently pick up an 84 year-old man at the grocery store.

And now for another Christmas pearl. This one is by Patricia Crisafulli. I met Patricia when I crashed a dinner party she held for Margaret McSweeney, Bonnie St. James, her husband, and son. And she welcomed me into her home like I was an old friend.



A Long Ago Christmas Memory
by Patricia Crisafulli

The old farm on a dirt road in the backwoods of northern New York State was described to me so many times, I can imagine the place, even though I never saw it: the big frame house with the wide porch, the pair of maple trees out front, and the barn in the back where my grandparents kept a cow or two, pigs and chickens, and a team of work horses.

That old house came alive for me in dozens of stories that my mother told, of how she and her sisters grew up there during the Depression. The stories had that long-ago feel not only because of the years that had passed, but also because of the era: tales of riding in a horse and buggy in the summer and a horse and sleigh in the winter. My grandfather owned an old Model A Ford, but the tires were patched beyond repair and there was no money for gasoline.

One story that has always stayed with me was of a particular Christmas in the early 1930s, a time my mother remember as the "depths of the Depression," and there was no money. In order to pay the interest on the mortgage, to keep the bank from foreclosing on the farm, my grandfather needed a relatively small sum. The amount I remember being told was $13, but for the little they had in those days it might as well have been $13,000.

Tested by trouble and sorrows, my grandparents relied on their deep and abiding faith. As Psalm 34 tells us, I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. The answer to their prayers was to be found right in their own backyard with gifts of the earth. My grandmother went into the woods to gather bushel baskets full of ground pine, with green sprouts like miniature boughs that spread in great patches along the earth. From willow branches she made hoops, around which she bound the ground pine to make wreathes.

She sat up all night making wreaths, enough to fill a large hamper basket, which my grandfather strapped to his back. At four in the morning, he hopped a ride on the milk train into Syracuse, where he went door-to-door selling wreathes. Night after night, my grandmother made wreaths, and day after day my grandfather sold them.

As Christmas approached, my grandmother had saved coupons that came in tins of coffee to get a Kewpie doll for her daughters. The only other things she gave them were mittens she knit herself.

Then on Christmas Eve, my grandfather came home from the last day of selling wreaths, exhausted but relieved. The farm was safe for another year. From what he had earned, he had a dime left over, which he spent on his beloved wife to buy her a powder puff. That night, my grandmother gave him her surprise: enough money from selling butter and eggs all year to buy four new tires for the Model A Ford.

Hearing this story as a child, my head was too full of the Sears & Roebuck "Wish Book" catalog to really comprehend it. As an adult, I try to fathom living with no money at all. What lingers in my heart, however, is the love of my grandparents for each other: the dashing young American soldier in World War I and the beautiful French girl he met overseas and then returned to her country to marry.

Many years, thousands of miles, and untold hardships later, that love continued. During a very dark December, they found a way together to keep the farm and the family together. And so it would always be for them.


____________________________________


Patricia Crisafulli is a writer, published author, and founder of www.FaithHopeandFiction.com, a monthly e-literary magazine with stories, essays, and poetry to inspire and entertain.


__________________________________



A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is leave a comment here. Come back on New Year's Day to see if you won!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info

79 comments:

iffer@AOL.com said...

What a beautiful story, and it really helps put things in perspective this holiday season! Thank you!

Christine Heitman AlwaysABrat13@yahoo.com said...

I would love to win the pearls. I think it would be nice to start the tradition of handing them down from Mother to Daughter.
AlwaysABrat13@yahoo.com

Melissa said...

I am loving these stories. Thanks for sharing them with us. With all the hustle and bustle of this time of year it's easy to lose sight of the truly important things in life. If we could just keep those in our hearts all the time (like you did on your cheer spreading shopping!) the world would be a much nicer place!

Jen@Scrapingirl said...

Merry CHRISTmas (wink wink) :)

Anonymous said...

At Christmas i am always hearing about "sacrifical giving". As tears came to my eyes, all I could think about was the sacrifies both experienced to be able to make the other happy. True Love....
Shannon in SC

little.birdy said...

Sacrifice always makes gifts sweeter!

Anonymous said...

This story really touched me. It is beautiful.

-Donna W.

rvirzi said...

What an absolutely lovely story. Certainly puts things in perspective when one thinks about how caught up we get in the materialism of today's world.

Anonymous said...

Thank you I needed a good cry today. what a sweet story!

Mr. Bailey Jackson said...

I did this too! I went out to the ...gasp! Mall on Tuesday and I made an effort to slow my stride, smile at others, and wish every store empolyee I encountered a Merry Christmas. It helps me remember WHY we do this every year, because of the gift that God gave us. And it goes a long way in making my holidays brighter.
Merry Christmas Dawn! To you & your family.

Steff said...

Pearls of wisdom....

Diana said...

I love your story! We have so much that we don't even imagine what it is like to have literally nothing.
Merry Christmas!
Oh and I'm sure you brightened peoples day, especially the old guy

IWTW said...

A heartwarming story ... it reminds me to appreciate the simple things. thank you!

stephanie said...

We really do get wiser the older we get - our perspective kicks in. Merry Christams.

Michelle said...

I love the spreading of holiday cheer. I was in Caputo's yesterday -- also sans kids and not in a hurry -- and waiting for the deli. I saw a mom with three young and ummm rambuctious children who was many numbers after me. She wasn't having the greatest luck keeping them entertained, and I switched numbers with her. The obvious relief she felt was palpable... and it made me feel good, too :) I still managed to get out of the store before her though!

Merry Christmas to you and all yours, Dawn!

And the things that people had and didn't have during the Depression... the stories consistently amaze me.

Katina said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing it with us! Merry Christmas, all!

Sarah said...

I love the story, and the pearls are lovely~!

Gilsner said...

I bet your wink was the highlight of that little old man's day! You craddle robber, you! Oh wait... he'd be the craddle robber... so what would that make you? Other then Wlinky McWlinkerson ;) (see that... it's a winky face, ha ha!)

Merry Christmas, Dawn!

Jen said...

I don't usually comment, but I can't pass up a chance at the pearls.

And while I'm commenting, I wanted to say I enjoy your stories. They're a very effective birth control.

An early 30-something fellow blogger.

Pink Heather said...

Merry Christmas to all!!!

Garth and Becky said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Natalie Young said...

After reading the pearl story the other day, I just wanted to post that I have my pearls packed to wear on Christmas day. They belonged to my grandmother, and I don't wear them often enough.

Aleta said...

thanks for sharing!

Prairie Lady said...

I know shopping is always smother alone. LOL I'm a mom of 8 so I understand.

South Carolina Mom said...

Merry Christmas Eve!

Anonymous said...

merry christmas and a happy new year!

Kimberly said...

Thank you for sharing your life and your thoughts with us all year long! I hope that you have a Merry Christmas and happy and peaceful New Year.

T said...

I'm glad you enjoyed your shopping trip!

Denise said...

Merry CHRISTmas to you and yours!!

rankin1997 said...

Merry Christmas Dawn!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing these stories with us, Dawn! I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy new year! Thank you for another year of belly laughs and big smiles!!

Donna in PA :)
xoxo

Megryansmom said...

What a touching story, thank you for sharing it. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Eileen said...

I adore your blog! thanks for a bright spot in my sometimes not so bright work days. Hope you and yours have a great new year, next time you are in sonoma, maybe we can do coffee! :o)

Laura ~Peach~ said...

love the stories and love the pearls :) count me in!

Kat in Key West said...

What a beautiful story!

Ryan said...

Great Story. Working hard is great.

Mrs. Who said...

Beautiful story...I felt like the Grinch whose heart suddenly expanded. Merry Christmas!

Jill said...

Beautiful reminder of the value of cherishing those we love! Merry Christmas :)

Jen S. in Pgh said...

Beautiful story!! The pearls look great too - something to pass to my daughter some day.

Tammy W said...

What a beautiful story.

Amy C said...

What a sweet story. :) Merry Christmas!

Elleah said...

I love that story! It makes me so thankful for the many blessings we have! We are so rich compared to many people.

Carrie said...

What a beautiful story!! You probably made that little old man's day. He went home and told his wife a young lady winked at him! :) Merry Christmas!

Heather said...

I am enjoying these stories so much, thank you!

Sara said...

What a beautiful story!

Jenn said...

I'm so glad you got into the Christmas spirit - hope you had a wonderful day yesterday!

Lindsay said...

That necklace is so elegant! I love it, as well as the story.

marcella. said...

What an amazing story! Happy new year to all :)

mommeeof9 said...

When I am feeling stressed about the bills, I remember that it could be a lot worse. We have a roof over our heads, food to eat, and clothes to wear. We may not have much money for extras, but we can cover the essentials. God has been so good to us!

Jen S said...

That is a great story - really tells what is important.

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Toni and Rod said...

Getting caught up on the blog, thanks for sharing the stories. The pearls are very pretty, they would look great around my neck. :)

Nina said...

i really like these stories. thank you

momathome43kids said...

What a beautiful story! I hope I win so that I might be able to tell the story again and again while I am wearing the pearls; an excellent conversation starter. Thanks for the opportunity. Cecilia

Doug and Anna said...

I like all the stories but this one especially is encouraging to so many this year who have lost jobs and are not sure where their next mortgage or rent payment will come from. Praying for God's provision for people I know who are in this kind of situation.

Laura G said...

Wonderful giveaway! Merry Christmas and Happy 2010!

Becki said...

I liked that story a bunch. One year I remember taking my little brother and sister to the neighborhood dump so we could find gifts for our parents. Thank goodness they hooped and hollared about those old rusty tools and dirty shirts. Now that I am older I still feel like one mans trash is another mans treasure.

akhughes said...

thanks for sharing. I am sure you made that old man's day, :)

I inCYST said...

WHAT A GREAT SOTRY....this was my hubby and I last year. This year we finally had money to get presents....he was so proud of himself....as was i....it's always great to remember what christmas is really about...

Kristin said...

I love feel good stories - thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

i would love to win this one sasha bctx

Tracy said...

From a mother of six to a mother of six: My pearl of wisdom would be as soon as the kids are asleep, you go to sleep, We can never get enough sleep. It didn't help that I'm lacking in sleep to write this-how does Santa do it? Ok, don't answer that :) I'm off to get some zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Judie said...

I love all these stories. Thanks for sharing them. New Year's Day is a great day for a giveaway - it's my birthday, which unfortunately ends in an "0"!

The Mess said...

Love your blog! You are so funny and I love the stories of your family. Great giveaway, would love to win! Thanks! Lisa :-)

Barb said...

I really enjoy these stories. Thanks for sharing them. I may have to buy the book.

Anonymous said...

Loved the story! And would love to win the pearl necklace. It would look great on me LOL!!

Rebecca M.
captainamerica1019@yahoo.com

Cheryl said...

Wonderful story! And what a nice give away! Beautiful necklace!

Ann said...

Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story.

cheri said...

Dawn, i really believe that everything happens for a reason. for whatever reason, i hopped on your blod tonight...feling really down and needed something to pick me up for just a moment. the story of saving the farm really hit home, as we are hoping not to lose our house this year, with my husband still out of work. i know that althgouhg i work as many hours as i thought i could, i just have to do just a bot more. thanks for the inspiration! i miss you!!

Angela M said...

Thank you for sharing all these great stories and for reminding us of the reason for the season. I'm not sure how you pick your winners, but I would sure enjoy this lovely necklace. I wore fake pearls at my wedding, and still felt lovely. They are getting a bit faded however, so it would be awesome having a new necklace. Merry Christmas. angelou22 at gmail dot com

Jessica said...

What a beautiful necklace, I would love to be able to pass these onto my daughter

AuntyM said...

Thank you Dawn.
I have enjoyed reading your blog.

kiki hantla said...

absoulutley beautiful. I would love a pearl necklace. kiki(at)hantla(dot)com

Tanyetta said...

I would love to win! Very inspirational reading. Thanks.

Anne said...

This a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it. : )

The A Team Mom said...

Thank you for the lovely story! I bet you always are cheerful to people as I see it as part of your personality to love and help others Dawn!
Thanks!
Nichole A

laurelmc said...

Happy Holidays Dawn. I really enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...

Sweet story--reminds me of the Gift of the Magi, one of my favorite short stories!

Lisa M.

Cait said...

I was just saying to my husband that we need to have a dress-up date - "dress, pearls and heels" - not easy to do with a three year old and an almost one year old! I'd love to win the necklace - maybe I can have that date in 2010!

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