Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Tree (10/09/08)
TITLE: PATCHES AND THE CHRISTMAS TREE OF HOPE
By Eureka F. Collins
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“Grandma, did you ever receive exactly what you wished for on Christmas, when you were a little girl?”
“Yes, but I had to wait many years.”
“What do you mean?”
“There was a twelve-year-old girl nick-named ‘Patches,’ who was the oldest of six children. They did not have a beautiful home like this. They lived in a small town up north. It was pretty, especially in the summertime, when the roses and pinks were in bloom. Her father had died when she was nine years old, and her mother worked for the rich people around the town.
“On Christmas Eve, Patches’ mother was working at the home of Mrs. Smith, a very rich and kind lady. When her mother arrived home, she gathered all of her children together and informed them that on Christmas morning there was going to be an enormous feast in the small town of Elizabeth City. The feast was for the many little ones who were very, very poor in that town. There were kind people there who looked after those poor children.
“Mrs. Smith, a retired college professor and minister, along with other Christians, held this great feast for the children that year. About three hundred children were present altogether. Some of them were six and eight years old, just like you are. However, all were very raggedy in appearance. All of the children were seated at long, narrow tables, which were covered with a white cloth.
“Patches and her siblings wore aprons, in bright colors, to hide their tattered clothing. Each table had a color of its own. These aprons were lent to them only for that day, and the children felt very comfortable in them. But there were two long rows without any aprons. They were children who had been picked up along the streets because permission had been given to bring any other needy children they could find. These two rows contained the most ragged and dirty little children of them all.
“The children without aprons were laughing and full of joy when they saw the feast, just like the children with aprons. Seven huge containers of fruit punch and a plate of turkey, dressing, corn and dinner roll went to each child. They enjoyed chocolate cake for desert and rarely did they have such a treat as this. Yes, they did eat every crumb! The children were able to eat all they wanted.
“My soul becomes so humble just thinking of their poor, innocent little faces beaming with delight.
“During the meal, a large group of orphan children sung some Christmas carols around a large Christmas tree. After the feast there were small gifts, short speeches and prayers; then, the biggest announcement of all—that every family would receive a Christmas tree.
“The little ragged ones seemed to be renewed with hope, in that atmosphere of love. It was such a blessed day as that Christmas was a rare event in their sad lives.
“Patches smiled, walked over near the huge Christmas tree and began to sing aloud the most beautiful carol they had heard:
'I sing this carol beneath a Christmas tree,
On early Christmas morn,
Because it is the day on which
Our Savior, Christ, was born.
The wondrous story we must tell,
Of the dear Savior’s birth:
Of how the angels came to say
That peace should reign on earth.
Of how the wise men travelled far
The infant Christ to see,
In the poor manger, where He lay
Upon His mother’s knee.
And so at break of Christmas day
We sing our carols sweet;
And ask a Christmas blessing
From beneath a Christmas tree.'"
“Grandma! Grandma! That’s the carol you taught us last year while sitting under our Christmas tree.”
“Yes, it is. And on this Christmas day, the answer to your question is—yes! I have received exactly what I had wished for many years ago—to share this story with my grandchildren while sitting beneath a Christmas tree. I am ‘Patches,’ one of those ragged carolers. Perhaps through prayer, people will understand the sufferings of the poor and bless them with kind acts like Mrs. Smith. I thank God that His grace was sufficient for me to receive a Christmas tree to hang my most precious ornaments of hope for a better future.”
“Grandma Patches, we love you!”
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