To Be Happy…Love Everyone

To be anybody, you must love everybody. Patricia T. HollandLoving everyone around you may not always be easy – but it is always life transforming. Love doesn’t always give approval. Love doesn’t negate accountability. What is does do is open doors, open hearts and instill joy.

I love today’s story! I love the message and I love it’s symbolism! I think when you read it, you will feel a little more love in your heart! I hope you enjoy!

The Devoted Son

Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they traveled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and many others adorned the
walls of their family estate. The widowed elderly man looked on with satisfaction as his only child became an experienced art collector. The son’s trained eye and sharp business mind caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt with art collectors around the world.

As winter approached, war engulfed their nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few short weeks, the elderly man received a telegram that his beloved son was missing in action. The art collector anxiously awaited more news, fearing he would never see his son again. Within days his fears were confirmed. The young man had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a medic. Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season-a season that he and his son had so looked forward
to in the past-would visit his house no longer. On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man. As he walked to the door, the masterpieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. He opened the door and was greeted by a soldier
with a large package in his hand.

The soldier introduced himself to the old man by saying, “I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you.” As the two began to talk, the soldier told of how the man’s son had told every one of his-and his father’s-love of fine art work. “I’m also an artist,” said the soldier, “and I want to give you this.” As the old man began to unwrap the package, paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man’s son. Though the world would never consider it a work of genius, the painting featured the young man’s face in striking detail.

Overcome with emotion, the old man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the portrait above the fireplace. A few hours later, after the soldier had departed, the old man set about his task. True to his word, the painting went above the fireplace, pushing aside thousands of dollars worth of paintings. And then the old man sat in his chair and spent
Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given. During the days and weeks that followed, the man learned that his son had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before a bullet stilled his caring heart. As the stories of his son’s gallantry continued to reach him, fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease his grief, as he realized that, although his son was no longer with him, the boy’s life would live on because of those he had touched. The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the priceless pieces for which museums around the world clamored. He told his neighbors it was the greatest gift he had ever received. The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world was in anticipation, since, with the old man’s passing, and his only
son dead, those paintings would be sold at an auction. According to the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned on Christmas Day, the way he had received his greatest gift. The day finally arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world’s most spectacular paintings. Dreams could be fulfilled this day; greatness could be achieved as some
could say,” I have the greatest collection.” The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum list… It was the painting of the old man’s son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid, but the room was silent.

“Who will open the bidding with $100?” he asked. Moments passed as no one spoke. From the back of the room came, “Who cares about that painting? It’s just a picture of his son. Let’s forget it and get on to the good ones.” More voices echoed in agreement. “No, we have to sell this one-first,” replied the auctioneer. “Now who will take the son?”
Finally, a friend of the old man spoke. “Will you take $10 for the painting? That’s all I have. “Will anyone go higher?” called the auctioneer. After more silence he said, “Going once, going twice…Gone!” The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone shouted, “Now we can get on with it and bid on these treasures!”

The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced that the auction was over. Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Then someone spoke up and asked, “What do you mean it’s over? We didn’t come here for a portrait of some old man’s son! What about all of the other paintings? There are
millions of dollars worth of art work here. We demand an explanation!” The auctioneer replied, “It’s very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son…gets it all.”

Just as the art collectors discovered on that day…The message is still the same…the love of the Father….a Father whose son gave his life for others…And because of that Father’s love…Whoever takes the Son gets it all.
Story shared from the following website: http://www.rogerknapp.com/inspire/devotson.htm

 

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Never Give Up!

Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it. Winston S. Churchill

When Life is Difficult

When life hands you difficult moments and challenges that seem insurmountable, remember that you never lose until you give up! Don’t give up! Don’t give up trying to improve and trying to make the world a better place. Don’t give up on yourself!

Winston S. Churchill

I love Winston S. Churchill! I love his spunk, his love of freedom and I love that he was such an amazing patriot! I suspect that he wasn’t the gentlest person that ever lived, but I am grateful for his tremendous heart and his efforts to keep this world free!

In 1941, World War II was raging. Winston Churchill left family and home just before Christmas to meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He did this at considerable risk to himself. Christmas Eve, he and President Roosevelt spoke to the nation via a radio broadcast. These are the words he shared:

“Here, in the midst of war, raging and roaring over all the land and seas, creeping nearer to our hearts and homes, here, amid all the tumult, we have tonight the peace of the spirit in each cottage home and in every generous heart… Here, then, for one night only, each home…should be a brightly lighted island of happiness and peace. (Shared from the book In The Dark Streets Shineth by David McCullough)

I believe that his and other leaders efforts to inspire the people of the free nations to raise their hopes that evil could be overcome and that goodness would prevail helped to grow the faith needed during that dire time in the history of the world.

We Have God to Turn to

We each have a a personal mentor who waits for our request to be blessed with hope, faith, and all of the abilities we might need to triumph over life’s difficulties. He never gives up on us and He will always walk our path with us. He does not do for us what we can do for ourselves, but with His perfect knowledge and His perfect Vision, He will guide us where we need to go and bless us with all that we truly need!

i hope that as you read today’s story, you will commit to Never Give Up!:

Never Give Up

Sir Winston Churchill took three years getting through eighth grade because he had trouble learning English. It seems ironic that years later Oxford University asked him to address its commencement exercises.

He arrived with his usual props. A cigar, a cane and a top hat accompanied Churchill wherever he went. As Churchill approached the podium, the crowd rose in appreciative applause. With unmatched dignity, he settled the crowd and stood confident before his admirers. Removing the cigar and carefully placing the top hat on the podium, Churchill gazed at his waiting audience. Authority rang in Churchill’s voice as he shouted, “Never give up!”

Several seconds passed before he rose to his toes and repeated: “Never give up!” His words thundered in their ears. There was a deafening silence as Churchill reached for his hat and cigar, steadied himself with his cane and left the platform. His commencement address was finished.

story shared from the following website: http://www.motivationalwellbeing.com/motivational-stories-3.html

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For God So Loved the World…

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

As I reflect on the Christmas story and the Gifts that have come to each of us as a result of the Savior’s birth, I never fail to think about the Eternal Father of us all. It was he that I met with during my near-death experience. I never saw Jesus but I did see and meet with God the Father.

Because of my experience, I believe that I know better than most the complete perfection of God and the complete devotion and love he has for each of us as his children. I can tell you that words cannot begin to express or describe his love and his devotion.

As the mother of six children and the grandmother to eighteen grandchildren, I cannot begin to fathom the love that enabled God to send his son and allow his sacrifice for all mankind. We are each truly blessed in so many ways – many of which we are not even aware of!

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior – I pray that we will send thankful prayers to the Father of us all. May you and those you love receive the Father’s love and blessings in abundance!

I hope you enjoy today’s story the includes both sacrifice and a Christmas miracle!:

The Father’s Sacrifice: A Christmas Story
Patti Davis

For 5 years in the late 80’s and early 90’s, My husband and I were foster parents to infants and toddlers with special needs. It was a time of special blessing for us as we saw God’s healing power touch these little lives. We never bought into the sentiment that you can’t get too attached. We believed in fully investing our lives in these children for as long as we had them. Of course, we knew that would mean a real time of grieving as they left, but how could we compare that short time of pain with the incredible joy they brought us? And how could you even begin to weigh it against those children having a time in their life when they were loved completely. Whether or not they ever consciously remembered the experience, I firmly believe that we planted in their spirits something that, throughout their life, would be able to recognize and respond to love.

Our first little girl came to us in July of 1991. After 5 little boys in succession, I was especially excited to have a little girl to dress up in ribbons and bows. She was our little princess. And she was BEAUTIFUL! At 2 1/2 months old, she came to us babbling and cooing non-stop. There were also lots of smiles and giggles. As time passed, it appeared that there was a very good chance she might come up for adoption. But we kept in our minds that the goal of fostering was restoring families, not building our own. We continued to pray for her parents and lavish her with love. She captured our hearts and the hearts of all around us.

At Thanksgiving time when she was 18 months old, we got word that her mother had fulfilled reunification and our princess was going home in January. Our stomachs were in our throats as we faced the inevitable. The thanks were bitter-sweet that Thanksgiving. So grateful for the time we had, but heartbroken to see her leave. Thankful for having a year and a half to fill her with love and cover her in prayer, but knowing a time of real grieving was on its way.

Then, the first week of December, it happened. The social worker came and told us that the mother had decided to relinquish her parental rights and let us adopt. We were euphoric! She was going to be ours – all ours. I was to meet with the mother the following week to discuss what the relationship would be between her and our daughter after the adoption. But within 15 minutes into our conversation, it became very obvious that we were discussing two very different things. She had not yet made up her mind about releasing her daughter for adoption and was wanting to meet with me to decide whether or not this was, indeed, what she wanted to do.

In an instant, I had to completely turn my thinking around and once again become, not the adoptive parent, but the support system for a mother facing a difficult decision. An advocate for that family, not my own. I reassured her that we would support whatever decision she made and do all in our power to make that change a positive one for her little girl. That her decision needed to be solely based on what she believed was in her child’s best interest. My husband and I should not be a consideration. Again, I reassured her that she had our full support. For an hour and a half we talked and cried and hugged and cried and talked. In the end, her decision was one of the most selfless acts I’d ever personally encountered as she decided to give us her child.

I was not prepared for how incredibly humbling this experience would be. It would forever changed me in ways I could not even comprehend at the time. Christmas took on a new depth that year. This woman had given up one of her 7 children so that that child might have a better life. How great a sacrifice this mother, who loved her child dearly, had made. I could see in her eyes a pain I could only imagine and could never heal.

As the Christmas story was told and retold that year, I couldn’t help but draw the comparisons. God had given up, not one of many, but His only child. Not to have a better life, but to be sent to a place where He would be spat upon and rejected, reviled and tortured. And why? So that we would have a better life. So that His perfect life and sacrifice could pay the debt for our sin. The Father’s sacrifice had never been so real to me as it was that year and has been ever since.

As we go into this holiday season, let us reflect, not only on the sacrifice of the Son, but on the sacrifice of the Father.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.yourchristianhome.com/printStory.phtml?id=91

 

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Now When Jesus was Born in Bethlehem of Judea…

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. As you read the Christmas miracle, do you wonder what made the wise men wise? Do you wonder how they knew that the Savior of the world had been born?

I believe that they were wise because they knew God – I believe that wisdom comes as we come to see the world as it really is – the world that God created.

One of the things that I have learned about miracles is that often ordinary people become key in the delivery of miracles. Have you ever wondered if a miracle depended on you? I think we often underestimate our importance in creating miracles and in making the world around us a better place. So often, it is in small acts of kindness that miracles are created.

Today’s story shares the creation of a miracles through an act of kindness. I hope you enjoy!

When my mother died at the age of eighty-four, my four sisters and I were heartbroken. How could we ever get over the loss of this warm and loving woman, a talented artist who enjoyed life in spite of its challenges and always doted on her husband, daughters and grandchildren?

For weeks after, my sisters and I would meet for dinner, laughing and crying over old memories. When it came time to sell the home my mother loved, we spent many days in disbelief, clearing out her belongings. I remembered reading an Ann Landers column years earlier that discussed how many siblings fight bitterly over the possessions left by their deceased parents. I thought, “How lucky we are that will never happen to us.” Somehow, we easily and peacefully divided Mom’s belongings—furniture, jewelry and household items—among ourselves and a few charities. Although I expected there might be a tug of war over her paintings, that never happened. Pretty good considering there were five daughters and four grandchildren. No conflicts, squabbles or disputes at all. Until we discovered the old nativity set in a box in Mom’s closet.

I remembered Mom telling the story of how she acquired the manger. An old friend who did carpentry work gave it to my mom and dad as a Christmas gift when they were first married. My sister, Eileen, however, remembers it differently. Mom told her she found the crèche in a garbage can belonging to Mrs. Bingham, the elderly lady who lived across the street from us.

Unlike some of the ornate versions found in today’s stores, this manger was crafted from dark wood and completely unadorned—just a roof, a floor and a railing surrounding it. Though beautifully crafted, there was one flaw: one side of the double gate in front was lopsided. Mom filled it with three figurines to start—Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus. For many years after, she continued to add others—the Wise Men, shepherds, angels, and animals. As kids, we loved the annual rites of the Christmas season, especially taking the nativity set and decorations down from the attic and carefully putting them in place. When the sisters all married and grandchildren came along, they added new characters of their own to the stable, including a set of the three little pigs.

After Mom’s death, when the nativity set emerged, no one was prepared for the battle that would follow. My sister Joanne was the first to claim the manger, insisting it was the only one of Mom’s possessions that she really wanted. Her wish was granted. But when my niece Mandy found out, she called from her apartment in California to voice her objection. She was clearly emotional as she repeated a decades-old promise made to her by my mother: “Nanny promised me that I could have the nativity set when she was gone,” she cried. “The nativity set belongs to me.” Joanne felt strongly that as Mom’s daughter, she had first dibs. Neither she nor Mandy would budge.

When the disagreement showed signs of becoming a full-blown family feud, we realized something had to be done. Enter the family arbitrator, my sister Eileen, who somehow saw through the fog. But as Mandy’s mother and Joanne’s sister, could Eileen handle this dilemma fairly? Temporarily, she set aside the emotion of the dispute, and thought logically. The nativity set was just a wooden stable, not an irreplaceable masterpiece of art. The beauty was in the eye of the beholders, the perception of two people who coveted a simple item owned by someone they loved. Couldn’t a copy be created? Of course! She would order the wood from the lumberyard and get someone to build a second manger.

The following day, Eileen went to Centre Millwork and stood in line behind several contractors ordering lumber from a young man with a crew cut. He was wearing a tag with his name, Brett, written in green magic marker. When Eileen’s turn came, she had to shout over the sound of buzzing saws. She pointed to the nativity set in her arms and told him the story, explaining that it was causing a major rift between her sister Joanne and her daughter Mandy. Brett took the stable from her, held it up with one hand and laughed, “They’re fighting over this?”

“Yes,” Eileen explained. “I know it seems crazy, but it was my mother’s and they both loved her very much. Is there any way you could measure and cut some wood so we could have a duplicate built?

Brett said, “Leave it here. I’ll see what I can do.” Eileen left, hoping he could come up with a minor miracle. That’s what it would take to satisfy the two women in her life that were squabbling.

A few days later, she received a phone message saying that her order was ready. When Eileen arrived at the hardware store to pick up the wood, she couldn’t believe what she saw — two identical stables sitting side by side. Brett had not only cut and measured the wood, he had built a second manger. “I know you wanted them to look the same, so I added a couple of dings and flaws that were in the original. Hope that’s okay.”

Sure enough, the new stable had the same lopsided front gate. “Okay?” Eileen said in tears. “You have no idea what this will mean to my sister and my daughter. To the entire family. I don’t care what this costs. Your work has saved the day.”

“That will be $3.75 for the materials,” Brett said. When Eileen insisted on paying him more, he said, “I didn’t do it on company time. I built it at home so I won’t charge you for the labor.” He pointed to the new manger. “I hope this helps your family have a merrier Christmas.”

Eileen left Brett with a large tip and a big hug of thanks. When she got home and called Joanne and Mandy about her creative solution, they were very happy and extremely relieved that the problem was resolved. One phone call later, Joanne and Mandy had agreed that Joanne would take possession of the new stable as well as some of the old figurines—including Mary, Joseph and the infant. Mandy would get to keep the original—just as Nanny promised.

—Kathy Melia Levine

Reprinted by permission Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC © 2013

Story shared from the following website: http://www.rd.com/true-stories/inspiring/christmas-stories-wonder-love/3/

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And There Were in the Same Country Shepherds Abiding in the Field…

 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night…I don’t know why but this part of the Christmas story always reminds me of God watching over us. I find it so comforting to know that, even in our loneliest moments, we are not alone and God and his angels are watching over us.

I don’t know if the story I share today is true – therefore, it may not be a story of a “true” miracle. However, I loved the spirit of the story so much, that I decided to share it anyway. I hope as the day we celebrate Christ’s birth draws closer that the spirit of his love for you burns ever brighter! Enjoy!

“A Christmas Miracle”

Rose rubbed the sleeve of her nightgown against the frosty glass and peered out into the night sky. The moon peeked over the mountain behind the little cabin.

Rose searched the sky. She needed to find a shooting star. Christmas was only three days away, and she had to make a wish.

“Rose McKenzie, stop your daydreaming,” Mama said. She pulled the curtain shut and kissed the top of Rose’s head. “It’s time for bed.”

Rose scrubbed her face and hands in the washbasin and ran a brush through her tangled hair. Her brothers, James and Henry, were settling down on their mattresses near the fire. Baby Bonnie was already fast asleep in her little bed — a drawer lined with soft blankets that rested on the chair beside her parents’ bed.

Rose leaned over to kiss the baby good-night. Then she kissed Mama and Papa, blew out the lantern, and crawled into the little fold-up bed next to the window that she shared with her sister, Sarah.

Rose tugged the covers to her chin. The fire in the fireplace hissed and popped. Papa’s snores rattled through the cabin. Outside, the wind rustled through the trees.

And Rose thought she would never fall asleep. It was too close to Christmas, too close to the most wonderful day of the year, and too close to the morning when her family would open small homemade gifts again.

 

Rose looked out the window again. She remembered how Mama had stared at the lacy green dress in the window of Mr. Pranger’s store when they drove into town. Rose wanted to give her mama that dress.

She closed her eyes and could see Mama opening it on Christmas morning.

There was Mama, laughing out loud in surprise. The green lace dress matched Mama’s sparkling green eyes.

Then Papa opened his gift — a shiny black pipe. Not a homemade one, whittled from a hickory branch. A brand-new pipe ordered from a catalog and shipped all the way from New York City.

Bonnie’s gift was a crib, carved and painted, and the boys got new wool coats. In Sarah’s gift was a note that said, “Look outside.” Sarah pulled open the door, and there stood a dapple gray pony with a big red ribbon around his neck.

“They got just what they wanted,” Rose murmured.

She opened her eyes. Sunlight streamed into the cabin.

Rose shook her head. “It was only a dream,” Rose said, as she smiled. “But what a wonderful dream. I wish it could come true.”

After breakfast, Rose helped her mother wash dishes. “Mama,” she said. “If you could have anything for Christmas, anything at all, what would you wish for?”

Mama smiled and set the clean plates in the cupboard. “I already have everything I could want — you, your brothers and sisters, and your father, all in good health.”

“I know, but I mean something extra,” Rose said, as she squeezed out the dish towel. “Something wrapped in a box that you could open on Christmas morning. What would it be?”

“Well, it would be a mighty funny-looking box,” said Mama. “But if I could have something extra, I’d wish for a Christmas tree, tall and full, with so many decorations you could hardly see the branches. And a big, plump turkey I could roast with dressing and potatoes.” She leaned against the cupboard and smiled. “And when it was done, we would sit down at the table next to our Christmas tree, and eat the finest Christmas dinner any of us have ever tasted.” She closed her eyes. “I can almost taste it now.”

“And a new dress?” asked Rose. “Would you like a new dress?”

“Yes,” Mama nodded. “A new dress.” Then she shook her head. “But there’s no sense wishing for something you can’t have.”

Papa chuckled. “Looks like Rose isn’t the only dreamer in the family.” He reached for his rifle. “I can’t promise you a turkey, but maybe I can find a fat goose for our Christmas dinner.”

He pulled on his coat and headed toward the woods.

Rose waited for Papa all morning. While she swept the cabin, peeled potatoes, and mended her stockings, she kept peeking out the window to see if Papa would bring home a goose.

Finally, just before noon, Papa tramped out of the woods carrying a gunnysack over his shoulder. Rose threw down her mending and burst out the door.

“Papa, you did it!” she cried. “We’ll have roast goose for Christmas after all.”

Papa laughed. “Not quite, missy.” He opened the sack. “I didn’t see any geese, but I did bring home a pheasant big enough to feed seven hungry McKenzies.”

Papa hung the pheasant under the eaves outside the cabin. Its russet and green feathers gleamed in the sunlight.

“I’ll need to clean it,” Papa said. He blew on his hands and rubbed them together. “First I need to go inside and warm up. Is that your mama’s potato soup I smell?”

Rose followed Papa inside and helped Mama ladle out seven bowls of soup.

While they ate, Rose tried to watch the pheasant. But every time she glanced out the window, Papa said, “Eat your soup.”

After lunch, Rose ran to the window and shouted, “Oh, no! Papa, look. He’s eating our Christmas dinner!”

Rose pointed at a bear that had wandered into the yard and pulled the pheasant down from the eaves.

Papa flung open the door. The bear ran off into the woods. All that remained were a few russet feathers lying in the grass.

The next day was Christmas Eve. After breakfast, Papa, Henry, and James pulled on their boots and coats and set out for the woods.

“Don’t worry,” Papa said. “We’ll have a fine Christmas dinner yet.”

Rose waited by the window. Sarah came and sat down beside her. The sun rose high in the sky. Finally Papa and the boys hiked out of the woods. James carried a gunnysack over his shoulder. Rose and Sarah rushed to the door, and Rose flung it open.

“Did you get another pheasant?” Rose asked.

“Is it as big as the first one?” asked Sarah.

“Not a pheasant,” said Papa, “and not as big.”

James opened the sack and pulled out a small quail. “Birds just aren’t that plentiful this time of year,” said Papa. “But we won’t leave this one under the eaves.” He laughed and said, “That pesky bear can catch his own Christmas dinner.” Papa and the boys cleaned the quail right away and brought it into the house.

Rose stared at the little bird. “But this can’t be our dinner,” she said. “It’s barely enough to feed Bonnie.”

“Nonsense,” said Mama. Then she kissed Papa on the cheek. “It’s exactly enough. Rose, you can help me peel potatoes, carrots, and onions for quail soup. And Sarah, you can help me bake loaves of bread. Then you can both take turns churning fresh butter. This will be the finest meal we’ve eaten in months.”

Mama pulled her big soup kettle from the cupboard and put it on the stove.

The quail soup simmered, and the bread dough baked into crusty brown loaves. Savory aromas filled the cabin. Rose and Sarah churned butter until they were sure their arms would fall off.

Finally, as the sun sank over the mountaintop, Mama said, “Help me set the table, Henry. Dinner’s ready.”

Sarah and James scrambled to their chairs. Rose placed the bread in the center of the table, and Henry set out bowls and spoons. Mama carried the hot soup over from the stove, and Papa held Bonnie in his arms. Then they all bowed their heads to give thanks.

Tap. Tap. Rose looked up. Someone was knocking at the cabin door.

Mama frowned at Papa and said, “Who would be visiting way out here at this time of night?”

Tap. Tap. Papa opened the door. A stranger stood on the step. His eyelids sagged with weariness.

The stranger’s voice quivered. “Could you shelter a hungry traveler from the cold?”

“Of course,” Papa said. He opened the door for the stranger. “You’re just in time for dinner. We don’t have much, but you are welcome to share what we have.”

“Bless you,” said the stranger. “Merry Christmas.”

Mama set an extra place at the table and began ladling out the soup. When she finished filling the eighth bowl — the stranger’s bowl — the soup kettle was empty. “Look at that,” Mama said. She set the bowl in front of the stranger. “We have just enough.”

After dinner, the stranger helped clear the table, then sat in a chair by the fire.

“Where did you come from?” Sarah asked him.

The man chuckled. “I’ve traveled for so long, it’s hard to say just where I’m from. I’ve been to the Great Lakes and to New York City and to the White House. I’ve even met Abraham Lincoln himself.”

Henry’s eyes grew wide. “Abraham Lincoln!” he exclaimed.

The stranger nodded. “Twice. I plan to keep traveling and meeting good folks like yourselves. I want to see the ocean someday, and the Grand Canyon.”

“And the giant redwoods?” asked James.

“And the giant redwoods,” said the stranger. He pulled a harmonica from his pocket and began playing. Papa pushed the table aside and pulled Rose to the center of the floor. Sarah picked up Bonnie, Mama grabbed the boys, and soon everyone was dancing.

The stranger played and played, and Rose’s family danced and danced. Finally, Mama collapsed in a chair. “Time for bed,” she said.

James and Henry piled blankets on the floor by the fire for the stranger, and everyone crawled into bed.

Before Rose closed her eyes, she took one more look out the window. A bright yellow star shot across the sky, leaving a sparkling trail behind it. “Oh!” she cried. Rose stared at the shooting star.

“Please let my family have a wonderful Christmas,” she whispered, “and let Mama have a Christmas tree.”

Dawn peeked over the mountain. Rose opened her eyes. It was Christmas! She would surprise her parents and the traveling stranger by making the coffee before anyone else awoke.

She tiptoed toward the fire. James and Henry were fast asleep, and the stranger was gone! On the floor where he had slept lay a bulging gunnysack.

“Mama! Papa!” Rose shouted. “Look.”

Her parents rushed over, Sarah stumbled out of bed, and the boys sat up on their mattresses. They all stared at the sack.

“It’s filled with presents,” Papa said. He pulled out a box and read the tag. “This one’s for you, Sarah, and this one’s for Mama.”

He passed out the gifts, then he, Mama, Sarah, and the boys began pulling off wrapping paper.

Mama lifted a green lace dress from her box, and Papa opened a shiny, new pipe. James and Henry unwrapped new wool coats, Sarah unwrapped a toy horse, and Mama helped baby Bonnie unwrap the biggest gift of all — a crib, carved and painted, just like in Rose’s dream.

Rose watched in silence. She was happy for her family. Still, the sack was empty, and there was no gift for her. She ran to the window to hide her tears.

“Oh!” she cried. “Look!”

Outside stood a fir tree, full and tall, with beautiful hand-carved decorations. Rose ran out the door. On the tree was a note that said: “To Rose. Merry Christmas.”

“It’s a miracle!” she shouted. “My wish came true. Merry Christmas!”

Today’s story shared from the following website: http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/holidays-christmas/christmas-stories-a-christmas-miracle1.htm

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