вторник, 4 декабря 2012 г.

Grandkids for Christmas

By Mimi Greenwood Knight

The deepest wishes of the heart find expression in secret prayer.
~George E. Rees

I was ten and my little sister was seven, the babies of a family of fourteen. Seven of my siblings had flown the coop, but my brother Wayne was the only one with kids. He and his wife had just been transferred across the country to California. Mama was looking at her first Christmas without little ones in the house. We all prayed she wouldn't be too sad, yet we suspected she was a bit depressed, though she didn't let it show.
On Christmas Eve we sat talking about my little nieces, wondering what they were doing. We imagined how empty the next day would be without them ripping open presents from Santa. When we couldn't stand it any longer, we called and passed the phone around, asked them if they'd been good girls and what they hoped Santa would leave under their tree. Mama busied herself in the kitchen, no doubt praying, as usual.

That's when our Christmas miracle began. We lived on a busy state highway in south Louisiana, on a section of road called Dead Man's Curve. The sound of screeching tires and smashing steel was not unusual to us. Many strangers found refuge on our living room couch while waiting for an ambulance, a tow truck or a family member to rescue them. Once a man died in my dad's arms on our front lawn, after being hit by a car as he walked along that treacherous road. My father, an ordained minister, baptized him there.

As we hung up from talking to our nieces, we heard the familiar sound of tires screeching. We held our breath, then heard an earsplitting crash. We bolted for the front door and rushed to the road. An eighteen-wheeler had plowed into a station wagon holding a young couple and their two little daughters. The truck was on its side in the ditch. The station wagon had crossed the road and a ditch, then landed inches from a row of trees. The truck driver and the young family crawled from the wreckage. Amazingly, no one appeared hurt, but the truck and car were going nowhere except the junkyard.

Someone stopped the traffic. Mom and Dad hustled everyone into the house, called the police and Mama started warming dinner. Next thing I knew the truck driver was gone. I guess someone picked him up. But the family was stranded. They were on their way to Mississippi to spend Christmas with elderly grandparents who were too old to drive and pick them up this late at night.

Within five seconds we all fell in love with the precious girls. The older girl was three just like my older niece, and the baby a few months younger than our little one. Mama rocked the baby to sleep and Daddy read Christmas stories to the girl until she dozed off in his lap. My sister and I offered to sleep on the den floor and give them our beds.

Mama scrounged around in her closet, found some toys, wrapped them and stashed them under the tree. Long after we drifted off to sleep ourselves, Mama's sewing machine whirred away making a painting smock, a dress and a pinafore for the older girl, a Christmas apron for the mother, and a bonnet for the baby. She wrapped up a handyman how-to book for the daddy and some of her popular homemade cheese straws.

When we woke up, Dad read the Christmas story from the Bible, then the three-year-old placed the figures in the manger, just like we did when we were that age. Everyone was amazed at the presents. The young couple was shocked to find something for them too.

About midday on Christmas, someone came from Mississippi to pick up the little family. We hugged goodbye and thanked each other for the wonderful Christmas we shared.

For many years after that, the family visited regularly every Christmas Eve. When their grandparents died and they no longer traveled to Mississippi, they stayed in touch, sent Christmas cards and even visited every few years. We marveled at how the girls, and later their little brother, grew.

There have been plenty Christmases since then. Now I spend them with my own four kids. There've been other miracles too. But I'll never forget the year God sent my mama grandkids for Christmas.

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