Remember the reason for the season

A Christmas Story 1942.

It was Christmas Eve 1942. 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 for Christmas.

We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Daddy wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Daddy 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 Daddy didn’t get the Bible instead he bundled up again 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 he came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now he 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 he 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 coat. Mommy gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn’t know what..

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?”

Mrs.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. Mrs.Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Daddy said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then he 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 my Daddy like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.

“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” he said. Then turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. 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 as 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 with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak.

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before filled my soul. 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 Daddy handed them each a piece of candy and Mrs.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 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 my Daddy 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 Daddy had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Mommy and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Daddy 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. My Daddy 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 Daddy and I was glad that I still had mine

At the door he 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 brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Mrs.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, Daddy turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something. Your Mother 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 Mom 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. 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 Daddy had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. He had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Mrs. 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 of my Daddy that night. He had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life..

Just maybe we can become someone’s lighthouse in their storm this Christmas Season!!!

Pauline Wayne, President Taft’s cow

William Howard Taft (27th, 1909-1913) was the last president to own a cow which provided the White House with milk and butter. Pauline Wayne, seen in front of the Executive Office Building next to the White House, was a Holstein cow (a Dutch-bred dairy cow) and was the Taft’s second cow, replacing Mooly Wooly who died suddenly in 1910 after being owned by the Taft’s for about a year and a half. It was reported Mooly Wooly ate too many oats which caused digestive issues, resulting in her untimely death. Nicknamed Miss Wayne, the cow was purchased for the Taft’s by Wisconsin Senator Isaac Stephenson and grazed on the grounds of the White House from 1910-1913. Pauline Wayne gave birth to a young bull on the White House grounds and he was named Big Bill, after Taft himself. She was considered more pet than livestock to the Taft family, residing in the presidents stables next to the Taft’s fleet of cars, and it was reportedly a sad day when the family moved out of the White House and had to ship Pauline to Wisconsin to graze on a farm there. She reportedly lived many years more in Wisconsin in good health.

Image credit: White House Historical Association”

From @thepresidentguy on Instagram

What to do, or not to do on Memorial Day

1. Don’t wish a Veteran a Happy Memorial day. There is nothing happy about the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. But always be happy to enjoy the freedoms they provided you.

2. It’s not really a holiday. It is a holy day. It’s a remembrance of those who died in combat or in service.

3. When you BBQ, grill or cookout make sure you remember why we have this long weekend. Tell your kids and grandkids why it’s important.

4. Remember its not just about the “heroes” of movie and book fame, it’s also about that private who landed at Normandy, Baghdad, Vietnam, Korea or countless other battlefields large and small and died 2 minutes into his first combat action.

5. If you want to know the true meaning, visit Arlington or your local VA cemetery. Learn the story of why there are coins on the graves.

6. Patriotism is a great thing, show a flag in remembrance, but make sure its a flag of the US not some political movement (BLM, Blue stripe, Rebel flag etc).

7. This weekend is not about you or me. Talk about Chesty Puller, George Patton, John Basilone, Dakota Meyer, Kyle Carpenter, Ira Hayes, Chris Kyle and any other heroes too numerous to name.

8. Keep remembrances, and the real burden for warriors who now stand their post in front of God and history.

9. Say a prayer… and then another.

10. Remember the fallen for all the good they did while they were here.

11. Reach out and let a Vet know you are there, and you care. We are losing too many in “peace time”.