A Christmas Story

This was the old world. The only thing worse than being a pregnant adolescent, was being one in a small town.

This is not my story, I just wrote it down. It was told to me by a preacher. His name was Jacob, but people called him, Brother J.J.

When Brother J.J. visited our church, he was already white-haired and elderly. He was as tall as a telephone pole, and unlike most preachers, soft-spoken.

I once saw Brother J.J. fill a church during a Christmas-season service. He sang hymns and played his fiddle for two hours. Before we lit candles, he told a story which has never left me. I wish I could tell it like him.

But this’ll have to do:

THE 1930’s—A TENNESSEE TOWN OUTSIDE FRANKLIN. Wintertime. It was the worst time in rural America. A fourteen-year-old girl became the victim of a terrible mistake—the kind of mistake that makes a baby.

Nobody knew who the father was, but rumors claimed her uncle had abused her.

This was the old world. The only thing worse than being a pregnant adolescent, was being one in a small town.

People were vicious. In town, no one made eye-contact. At school, the teacher asked her to stop coming. Her mother called her a whore. Her father made her sleep in the shed.

The shed.

When her father sold the timber rights to his property, a truckload of loggers arrived to clear-cut the family land.

That night, the migrant workers slept in the same shed she did. And even though the girl had a belly as big as a washtub, one man made lewd advances.

Another man came to her rescue. He fought off the offender with his fists and a furniture leg. The next morning, both men were fired. But before her hero walked away, he asked her to come with him.

As his wife.

“Why would you wanna marry me?” she asked. “You don’t even know me.”

“’Cause it ain’t right for a little girl to sleep in no shed.”

He scraped his money together and bought an old car. It was a beat-up coupe that needed the radiator refilled every few miles.

They married. They headed south, looking for work.

During the nights, she slept in the backseat. He slept outside. Something had brought the two strangers together, but nobody knew what the hell it was. The miles piled behind them.

Then it happened.

Somewhere on Highway 31, late at night, she soaked the front seat. He pulled over. He tried to flag cars down, but there were hardly any on the road.

She hollered. He didn’t. He stood still and reminded her to breathe.

It took a few hours to ruin the Model-T upholstery with blood and fluid. But it took the rest of their lives to wipe the glows off their faces.

Because, you see, on a vacant highway, somewhere between Alabama and Tennessee, unto them a child was born—wrapped in a work-shirt, lying in a Ford. And they called that bastard baby, Jacob.

But most folks called him, Brother J.J.

May this Christmas be your best.


  1. Barbara McGinnis - December 26, 2016 2:25 pm

    “Love came down at Christmastime.”

  2. Mary Ellen Hall - December 26, 2016 10:59 pm


  3. Tish - December 27, 2016 12:47 am

    wonderful Christmas story – Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  4. Marthajane Cassidey - December 28, 2016 3:01 am

    I love all your stories, but this one is the best so far. You make me glad to be from the South!

  5. John Miller - December 30, 2016 5:42 am

    Simply beautiful!

  6. elainenkarrh - December 19, 2017 10:41 pm

    You simply amaze me.Thanks for making me cry like a baby,again…Merry Christmas,Sean to you and yours.

  7. Roxie Hoven - December 23, 2017 10:33 am


  8. Charles Evans - December 23, 2017 11:39 am

    Christ is born in the hearts and lives of many lost men and women left behind by society, only to bring life out of death, hope out of despair, and a future out of what some would call failure. That is the miracle of God. Thank you Brother J.J. for sharing your life and story with the rest of us. Charles Evans

  9. Joyce Anne Bacon - December 23, 2017 12:47 pm

    Another wonderful story making my heart overflow and run down from my eyes.

  10. Susi Mitchell - December 23, 2017 12:56 pm

    I spent a number of years working as a teen parent advisor. I’ve heard all sorts of horror stories. I had one thirteen year old who refused to talk about the man who got her pregnant but it was believed to be her uncle. She was sent away to the town I live in to the home for unwed mothers until she gave birth. When that occurred her baby was thirteen pounds… a thirteen year old girl gave birth to a thirteen pound baby!! I don’t know how the doctor failed to note that the baby was too big and she probably had gestational diabetes that went untreated. That baby was huge! He looked like a newborn sumo wrestler. She was a stoic child and preparing to return to her family, where no doubt she would continue to be molested and shamed. I always remember wondering how that young girl endured. Your story gives me hope for all the girls I worked with those twenty-five years ago. Those babies are now adults and I see some of them around town, because I live in a small town too.

  11. Emily - December 23, 2017 1:04 pm

    One of the best Christmas stories Sean. Thank you and Merry Christmas. ?

  12. Elouise Billions - December 23, 2017 1:16 pm

    I love this beautiful story of love and redemption. Thank you for telling it, Sean. Christmas blessings!

  13. Mary Lou Sparks - December 23, 2017 1:55 pm

    A beautiful story!!

  14. Maria - December 23, 2017 2:14 pm

    A beautiful Christmas story!

  15. Marty - December 23, 2017 2:21 pm

    Sean God gave you a gift. Don’t ever stop using it. You are touching many lives.

  16. Dianne Correll - December 23, 2017 8:07 pm

    And GOD Blessed. Thank you again and Merry Christmas!!!

  17. unkle - December 24, 2017 8:57 pm

    that one made water come to my eyes. Merry Christmas to you all. uk

  18. Rebecca Harrison - December 24, 2017 10:52 pm

    You write so often about love. This has to be one of your best. What a gift you have!


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