As the season of Christmas is upon us, I've been asked several times to share my Christmas story about an amazing miracle of blessings that happened to my family in 1965. This story appeared Christmas morning 2006 on the front page of The Montana Standard and Anaconda Leader newspapers.
I share it with you today to inspire you to celebrate the gift of giving this Christmas! I've changed the format to match the devotional style that appears in my book Caregivers' Devotions to Go. This book of 30 stories of caring for others is available as an e-book and soon to be in print at www.edmbookstores.com
The people of my home town were definitely caregivers during the Christmas of 1965.
A Devine Christmas Blessing
Copyright 2006 By Gigi Devine Murfitt
Luke 10: 27 He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Thanks to the loving community the harsh reality of cancer was forgotten for our family during Christmas 1965. Over Thanksgiving weekend, lung cancer stole away our beloved dad. He was 48 years old and left behind ten precious children and a beautiful wife. Devastated by her loss, Mom’s first words were “Now what are we going to do?”
With medical bills exceeding $10,000 and a bank account wiped out, she feared the worst. Mom had no idea how to deal with the reality of her life as a widow with ten children. Although she had overcome many challenges, she was not sure how she would handle life without Dad. The situation looked grim as Christmas day closed in.
My teenage siblings pitched in to make the season feel somewhat normal. They cut down a fresh pine tree and dragged the boxes of decorations from the basement. Jim and Jack, the fifteen year old twins, lifted four year old Patti on their shoulders to place the angel on top of the ten foot pine, something Dad used to do. Christmas would be different without him, but this one would be remembered for the rest of our lives.
Imagine the mystery and surprise in the weeks after dad died when Christmas angels emptied their pocketbooks to fill a deep void left in our hearts. They filled our front and back porches with Christmas love. There were sacks of potatoes, bags of flour and sugar, apples and oranges, boxes of cereal, turkeys, hams and roasts. One egg carton arrived with a hundred dollar bill tucked neatly inside. Wrapped gift boxes arrived daily.
Although she claimed not to believe in Santa, thirteen year old Kathy was forced to say “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”, as she watched us trip over the packages on Christmas morning. Yet, Santa was not a singular noun, like our English teacher mom had taught us. Santa was an entire community, dear sweet Anaconda, Montana.
We were overwhelmed by clothes and coats; a train, a race car set; Monopoly and Mouse trap games, dolls with beautiful dresses, ice skates, sleds and skis. The most overwhelming thing was the look on mom’s face as she watched us squeal with delight at the surprises. I remember her tear streaked face as she tried on a new wool coat neatly wrapped in a beautiful package with her name on it.
Mom would not have been able to buy any toys or clothes this year, just a month after losing Dad. Her English teacher salary was barely enough to pay the living expenses of such a large family. At a time when her future was uncertain and worry caused sleepless nights, loving friends and strangers gave her something to smile about.
To this day, we do not know the names of the Christmas angels who blessed us in 1965. No one ever came forward to take credit for the food and gifts that kept coming. Each Christmas we pray that these angels will receive a special blessing of their own.
Lord, show me someone in need this season. Give me a heart to help those in less fortunate. I thank you for allowing me to love my neighbor because you have loved me.
Pick an individual or a family to bring blessing to this year. Wrap some gifts and leave them on their door step. Or bake some cookies and bring them to an elderly neighbor. Make the time to share your love with someone in need.
Gigi Devine Murfitt writes and speaks about many topics. Raised in a single parent home with nine siblings, her life has been dotted with stories of courage and hope. She and her husband Steve founded Gabriel’s Foundation of HOPE to help families living with disabilities. They have two adult sons, Zane and Gabe and a daughter-in-law, Kelsey.
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