As I mentioned in my question of the week, stories have always been a part of the Christmas season for me. I love Christmas stories, and I have a book my mother made for me years ago filled with them. They always remind me of the spirit of the season and the beauty of the Savior’s birth. So, here, I am attempting to share a bit of that spirit with each of you. I hope each of you find the spirit of Christmas overflowing in your hearts: that it brings you joy and the desire to share your feelings with others.
So, to the tune of the twelve days of Christmas…My first story of Christmas, my true friend sent to me…
Incident of Fourth Street
Norman Vincent Peale
One Christmas Eve, when I was a small boy, I was out with my father doing some last minute errands on Fourth Street in Cincinnati. The packages I was carrying grew heavier with every step, and I could hardly wait to get home so that Christmas could begin.
This was the night when we three boys trimmed the tree, hung out stockings in front of the fireplace and then the neighbors gathered around our piano for carols so lovely they made a lump in my throat.
It was while I was thinking those things that a hand touched mine. Beside me on the sidewalk stood a bleary-eyed, unshaven, dirty old man. I recoiled from the grimy fingers, turned my shoulder to him and then the old man crept away.
My father had seen. “You shouldn’t treat a man that way, Norman.”
“Aw, Dad, he’s nothing but a bum”.
“A bum?” my father said. “There is no such thing as a bum. He is a child of God. Maybe he hasn’t made the most of himself, but he is God’s beloved child just the same. Now I want you to go and give him this.”
My father pulled out his pocketbook and handed me a dollar. This was a large sum for our family; most of our gifts to each other hadn’t cost that much. “Now do exactly as I tell you. Go up to him, hand him this dollar, speak to him respectfully, and tell him you are giving this dollar to him in the name of Christ.”
“Oh, Dad!” I objected. “I couldn’t say that!”
My father insisted. “Go and do as I tell you.”
Reluctantly, I ran after the old man, caught up with him and said: “Excuse me, sir, I give you this dollar in the name of Christ.”
The old man look at me in absolute surprise. Then a curious change came over his whole bearing; a new dignity into his manner. Graciously, with a sort of bow, he said: “And I thank you, young man, in the name of Christ.”
Suddenly the packages in my arms were lighter, the very sidewalk was beautiful. No Christmas tree stood there, no carols filled the air, but, all at once on Fourth Street, Christmas had begun.