I wrote this story around Christmas time and am excited to share it with you! Enjoy!
I was finishing a story late Christmas Eve when my boss popped in my office. “Crash on 7th Street – get over there, Tom, asap.”“Yes sir!” I sprinted out to my Jeep, and sped off to the scene.
It wasn’t pretty. Shattered glass, totaled cars, flashing lights, and eerie sirens greeted me as I leapt from my car and hastily crossed the street to talk to an officer standing to the side. “Thomas Archer with Avalanche News; what happened?”
“Apparently the Camaro ran a red light. We think he was drunk-driving, we’re doing the tests now. Head on collision with that Toyota. It’s a mess.”
“Was anyone injured?”
“Yes, 2 are critically injured; the ambulance just got here. One of them a 5-year-old. Ruined her Christmas.”
“What about the driver?”
“Minor injuries…” He suddenly stopped and reached for his pager: “What? Be right there. Sorry, looks like I got to go. The full report should be up in the next couple days.”
“Thank you, officer.”
As I stared at the dismal scene, I watched as the EMT’s loaded the stretchers into the hospital and the drunk was escorted to a police car; tow trucks started clearing up the debris of smashed cars.
“So much for peace on earth.”
After taking a few photos, and asking a few more questions of witnesses nearby, I walked to my car and drove to the nearest coffee shop. The aroma of caramel sauce, hot chocolate, and black coffee greeted me as I opened the door.
The man behind the counter turned to look at me as the door opened. “Hey! Tom! See ya got your reporter pad! Comin’ to do a story on the best coffee shop in town?”
“No, Frank, just finishing up a story.”
“Ah, so it’s one of those nights! One eggnog, comin’ right up.”
I sat down at my customary table, the one I always used when I was writing an article. Spreading all my papers out on the table, I set up my laptop and started in.
“By the look of things, ya must be reportin’ on a bomb or sumptin…” Setting down my coffee, Frank pulled up a chair. “Mind if I join ya?”
“Go ahead, though it’s mighty uninteresting to watch me type.”
“I get the picture… rough night?”
I finished my story ahead of schedule, so I decided to stop at the store to pick up a few groceries for my wife, Marie. As I entered the store, a bell-ringer greeted me, and I started to feel a little better. “Maybe Christmas is still around some places.”
At least, I felt that way until I walked past the toy aisle and heard a tiny voice screeching at the top of his lungs:
“I want that!”
“You can’t have it. We’re already in too much debt!”
“I – WANT – IT!” The child’s face was disfigured with anger, and he looked like a spoiled brat.
“Hope you have a merry Christmas!” I wanted to say, but didn’t think it would help the situation any.
My basket full, I headed to check out.
“Can you hurry up? I don’t have all day!” The cashier glared at me.
“Sorry.” I checked out as soon as possible. “And a Merry Christmas to you too.”
“Here’s the story, Harold.”
“Thanks.” The editor took the story and glanced at the title. “‘Christmas Eve Wreck, Drunk Ruins Little Girl’s Christmas.’ Wow, Tom, doesn’t sound like your usual headline.”
“Guess not. You can change it, if you like.”
“Ok, sit. What’s wrong?”
“It’s just, well, whatever happened to Christmas, Harold?”
“It’s still on the 25th of December.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I watched an unconscious young girl loaded into an ambulance because a drunk drove into her car. I went to the store to pick up something for Marie, and kids and parents were yelling in the aisles, and the checker yelled at me to hurry up! I mean, what happened to the goodwill, glad tidings, and… and… beauty of this season?”
“Maybe you’re looking in the wrong place.”
“What?” I stared at him in disbelief.
“The Christmas joy won’t be found in this world, Tom, take it from me. I read the stories you fellows bring in, and make the final cut on pictures to go with those stories. Life’s brutal, man. But Christmas isn’t about the here and now, it’s about…”
My phone suddenly rang.
“It’s Marie… I got to take this. Hello? Is the little one on the way?”
“No, Tom! You worry too much! It’s just that my sister Jenny just brought me back from the store and I just realized I forgot to pick up mayo for our sandwiches for dinner. Ugh! My forgetful brain! Can you pick up some, sweetie?”
“ ‘Course. What brand. . .”
“Uh, Tom… you’d, I, oh boy. You’d better get here right now… I, I went to open the front door, and… and the front window is smashed… I think someone is inside!”
Panic gripped me. “Get out of there! Now! I’ll be right there!”
The chair I was sitting in crashed to the floor as I headed for the door. “I got to go, Harold… Someone broke into our house!”
White-knuckled and terrified, I pulled up to our house as sirens shot down our street. With a sinking feeling, I realized the scene before me was real; I wasn’t dreaming. The story I had written about for so many people had just become mine.
My wife crossed the street to join me as I watched dumbfounded while the police searched our house.
“Are you ok?”
“I’m fine,” she said, leaning against my shoulder. “Just shook up. What about you?”
“Just glad you are ok.”
A police officer walked my way. “I’m Officer Burkholder. So sorry this happened to you.”
“Do you think you’ll be able to figure out who did this?”
“We’ll do our best. Though, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Whoever did this knew what he was doing. You know, theft is common this time of year.”
“Did you find anything missing?”
“We haven’t actually gone in the house; my wife noticed the broken window and thought someone might be inside. I got here the same time you all did.”
“Ok. I’d suggest you find somewhere else to stay; we’ll have an officer keep an eye on the place, but good chances are they might come back.”
“Thank you officer. . .”
“We’ll be in touch.”
“Tom, where will we go?”
“I don’t know, Marie… I don’t know.”
I stuck the key in the ignition and turned the key slowly as I fell back in my seat. “This wasn’t quite the Christmas I had in mind for you, Marie.”
“Don’t worry about me.” My wife turned her head in that adorable way she always did when she was thinking. “Somethings eating you. Why don’t you tell me?”
“It was just the whole day. I had to report on a terrible car accident, and I just feel like Christmas passed me by. When did Christmas become so, so phony?”
“You sound cynical in your old age.”
“I know, Marie.”
“I’m just teasing. It must be hard. You see the worst in people and have to share it with the world. I just wish you could see the other side of the world.”
“Which would be?”
“I don’t know how to explain it, Honey… Give me time.”
Suddenly, her phone rang.
“Hello? … Yes, this is Marie… Really? Well, actually, our house was broken into just a little bit ago… How did you hear about it? … Really! ... Can you give me your address? ...” She started waving her hand at me. “Write this down… 484 Silvercreek? Thank you so, so much! I really, really appreciate it… See you soon! Bye.”
“Well, what was that all about.”
“Remember Mrs. Clarke from church? She just offered to let us stay with her. She felt like the Lord prompted her to call us; she didn’t even know that our house was broken into.”
“I think I know how to answer your question now…”
“God is working behind the scenes.”
As I walked in the door of Mrs. Clarke’s home with my very tired wife, I felt like I had stepped into another world. Away from the sirens and chaos. Away from the drama. Just us, Christmas music, and the scent of fresh cookies.
“Come in, come in! How are you all doing?”
“It has been a long evening…”
“Thank you so much for taking us in!” Even though her voice sounded cheerful, I could tell the stress was taking a toll on Marie.
“You poor dears. Come sit in the living room while I bring you something warm to drink. Is there anything else I can get you?”
“You’ve been more than kind to us. We really appreciate you opening your doors to us.”
“Can I help you in the kitchen?”
“Absolutely not, Marie! You need to rest! Just sit right there.”
After she showed us to our room, my exhausted wife sank on the bed. “I’m worn out.”
“I can tell.”
“I am going to try to sleep.”
“Go for it.”
It was one o’clock when I woke to the sound of someone moaning.
“Marie! Marie, what’s wrong?”
My wife smiled faintly before another wave of pain took her smile away. “Well, you’ve been asking for the past – uh – two months if it was time… you’d better help me to the car… our baby’s on the way.”
Several hours later, I sat in a chair next to my resting wife, in my arms my sleeping little baby girl. The events of the past 24 hours came back to me in waves; the car accident, snobby people, our home broken into, nowhere to go, Mrs. Clarke’s offer, several hours of pain, and then a wonderful gift.
It suddenly dawned on me as I looked at my little girl; over 2000 years ago, another family had witnessed tragedy and chaos as the Romans ruthlessly ruled, another family had nowhere to go, and after several hours of pain, the greatest Gift was given to the world.
That first Christmas wasn’t a silent night; it was filled with moaning, tears, and pain. Rejection. Heartbreak. But God was orchestrating the whole story.
“You were right, Marie. There is another side to the story.”
My wife softly stirred and stretched out her hand. “What’s that, honey?”
I took her hand in mine. “Merry Christmas.”
Hi! My name is Hannah, and I enjoy playing piano, writing, hanging out with my family, and spending time with my Lord and Savior. Hope you are blessed!