Like many newlyweds, we were pretty poor our first Christmas 40 years ago. The angel pictured is a tree topper I had made while we were still engaged, and our only holiday decoration.
I did also make some snowflakes out of white paper to hang in our apartment windows, which was festive enough for us. We were going back to Pennsylvania for the holiday anyway, so not having a tree wasn't a problem. Not to mention the fact that in NYC where we were living they were $35 for even a little one.
Our entire Christmas budget was $30. That would have to cover our combined 9 brothers and sisters and 4 parents. Tight, but doable.
At that time Bill was working for a company that was running the food service for an area college. The hours were long and we only had one car, but I did what I could to help earn some extra cash. I did some door-to-door sales and babysat for his boss Joe, and his wife Mary.
I kid you not.
One evening Mary offered to take me to the mall to shop as I had no other way of getting there. We had fun and I was able to get something nice for everyone on my list. I knew I had only a few dollars left, so was shocked when I looked in my wallet and found a $20 bill.
We were in the car on the way home, and I said "I must have gotten the wrong change from someone. We have to go back."
"We'll never be able to figure out which clerk it was, there were too many. Anyway it's late and we have to get home."
I always considered that to be my Christmas Miracle. Recently Bill and I were reminiscing about Christmases past and this story came up. I mentioned that I had always wondered what had happened.
Then he said "Did you go to the Ladies Room before you left the mall?"
Thinking back, "Yes."
"Did Mary hold your coat and purse?"
"Yes, yes she did."
"I bet she put that money in your wallet. That's the kind of person she was."
I thought back to the scene in the car. She had asked me how much money I had left.
And I remember when I was saying that we had to go back, that there had been a mistake, she was smiling.
It wasn't about the money. It was about the giving.