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True Christmas Spirit

Somehow, around the Christmas holiday, I still recall a story that my father verbally recounted to me when I was a young teenager in the seventies.  No, he did not recount this story as a Christmas tale, but this is how I like to envision it and no, it is not a religious tale of Christmas regarding the birth of our Savior Child, Jesus but rather is another aspect of the Christmas spirit whose message is of “giving” rather than “receiving.” I felt that it really is a story that needs to be shared and appreciated by people at Christmas time especially in these days of everything about “me, myself and I” that includes all the selfies, self-aggrandizing, self-adoring, self-indulgence, selfishness and greed.  Hope you will enjoy and take away some inspiration from this beautiful tale that takes place during a very difficult time in our history and I believe is one of the most beautiful holiday times of the year.


It was December 24th, 1933, Christmas Eve day… that very special and magical time of the year. It was a fairly warm day considering the average temperature usually hovers around or below the freezing mark in this very small rural Northern Iowa community, which consists of picturesque farms.

It still was in the height of the Great Depression, despite it being in the normal gaiety of the Christmas holiday season, it was a tragic time for the Peterson family.  They had barely recovered from the loss of their father to a serious accident a year ago, and now their much-beloved mother, Beverly, was quickly succumbing to a bout of pneumonia. Since the Depression hit these farm communities particularly hard, money was sparse, if nonexistent, and having six children to feed and clothe, she simply was unable to afford a doctor’s care.  Instead, the only choice was to take to her bed and hope for a quick recovery and a positive fate that the Holiday season might afford them. Until her health was restored, she came to rely on her eldest son, Kean, who had just barely turned 13, to carry on with the household chores and to care for his brothers and sisters. These children (two girls and four boys) ranged in age from 4 to 13.  Not long ago, they had been a very happy family filled with so much promise and hope for eventual prosperity on their farm.

As the afternoon arrived, Beverly was barely breathing and was becoming more unresponsive. She barely had enough breath to call out to Kean. He quickly responded to her raspy voice, as he could not bear to imagine that she was failing this fast right before his very eyes. For her sake he acted as brave as any soldier could on a battlefield facing a formidable enemy. "Son, I think the Good Lord is calling me home to be with your father. Don’t fret, you will not be alone.  Just be brave and be the rock for our family in these coming days and you will surely be blessed. I need for you to take care of your brothers and sisters, so go forth to every farmhouse and do your best to seek out good homes for them.  While it will not be an easy task for you, everybody is facing great difficulties and every farm household can use extra hands these days."

"Don’t worry Mom, I will do my best to find them the best homes in the land, as you and Dad have provided us with the best gift, your love." As he reached out to touch her hand, it went limp, as he fought his tears and kissed her forehead, one of the next oldest brothers, Peter peered in the doorway.

From being shell-shocked only moments ago, Kean quickly moved his brother into the other room and began to focus hard on the overwhelming task ahead of him. It was the only thing that mattered on this earth for him. His mind focused on this one thought: "I have to get my brothers and sisters a new home for Christmas."

He gathered his siblings together and told them especially noting the youngest sister that they were now going to go on a great adventure and go out visiting this Christmas Eve, and each of them may be staying with some new families this Christmas.

"What about Mommy?"

Being careful not to concern them about their mother’s passing, he stated that Mommy went on to join their Daddy in the heavens and her Christmas wish to them all was her love and happiness in their new homes. Since the children loved and respected their big brother they listened and accepted his assurances that they will always be love and bonded together as brothers and sisters for the rest of their lives.

They started to embark on their journey, all brother and sisters bundled up and walking toward their neighbors' houses. The smallest boy ran back to get his favorite toy, an old ratted teddy bear that had been handed down from years ago. Kean picked up his youngest brother and started to carry him as the sun was setting in the distance.

The first several houses he knew the neighbors, and they were shocked and saddened to hear of their plight but could not offer assistance as they were struggling hard to meet their own needs.

But the last neighbors had suggested the Wellford’s had needed some help on their farm; As they were childless they might be in a position to help. Sure enough, they arrived at the Wellsford’s, who upon hearing their plight were happy to oblige and felt it was a special sign on Christmas Eve so they gladly took in Kean’s little sister, Emily, 6 and his brother, Tommy, 7.

As they all said their good byes they were only too happy to know that Wellford’s new puppy had also welcomed them. As Kean forged forward to the next house, their fortune increased as the Mason family needed the two boys Peter 11, and Christopher 9, to help out with the farm, along with their only son Timmy, 10 who welcomed them into their home.

Kean goes up to the next house, where the owners were heartbroken that they could not help them but gave good wishes.

Finally they arrived at the nice, large distinguished home of the respected McGuire family of four. The McGuire boys were happy to finally have a little sister, and Goldie 4 fit the ticket. He released Goldie from his arms and gave her a kiss before handing her to Mrs. McGuire.

As he started to walk away from the house, Mr. McGuire called out. What was he going to do now that all his brothers and sisters had found a home?

Kean slowly turned around and realized that he had been so wrapped up in his mission to find homes for his brothers and sisters that he had not thought about himself.

"I don't know," he answered.

"I would be honored to have a son like you who thinks of others before himself," Mr. McGuire replied.

Kean headed back to the house with Mr. McGuire. As he joined his sister and their new family, he felt proud that he fulfilled his mother’s request. He was indeed truly blessed on this Christmas Eve Day!

The End