Christmas Child

It’s winter in Western North Carolina. The hills are white. A ‘58 Chevy Impala rolls across gravel roads. A young girl is driving.

She is fifteen, not old enough to have a license. Not old enough to do much of anything except make mistakes.

And that’s why she’s leaving.

When her mother discovered she was pregnant, they had a fight. Things got heated. In a moment of fury, her mother told her, “Get outta here and never come back!” So that’s what she did.

Earlier this very morning, before sunrise, the girl stole the Chevy. It was impulsive, irrational, juvenile, and pick an adjective. She didn’t pack a coat or a change of clothes. She just started driving.

The roads are steep, covered with ice. Driving is harder than she thought. A clutch and stick shift are difficult to master.

The weather is getting worse. She cannot see where the road ends and the ditches begin.
There is a shallow bridge ahead. A guardrail. Her tires lose traction. It happens quickly.

The car plows down a hill. It falls nose first into a creek. The whole thing happens so slowly it is almost surreal.

When she awakes, she is trapped in a car that’s filled with icy water. She is pinned inside. And maybe it’s shock, or maybe it’s because of the cold, but she passes out.

A few minutes later, she opens her eyes. She realizes she is so cold she can hardly move. She screams, but nobody is around for miles.

“This is it,” she thinks to herself. “I am going to die in this car.”

The passenger door creaks open. She sees a man plunge into the water to retrieve her. He is wearing a brown wool coat, he has silver hair.

And in her moment of delirium, she misses her late father, a man who died before he reached forty-five. She remembers how he used to hold her. She remembers how he used to hoist her on his shoulders and show her the world.

It’s funny what you think about when you are dying.

The man carries her up an embankment. His breathing is labored, but his arms are strong. There is something familiar about him.

But then, she isn’t sure of anything. She is drifting in and out of consciousness, caught between old memories and the present.

The man removes his coat and places it over her. It does little to cut the cold, but it’s a start. He wraps her, then holds her tight.

Her blurry eyes get a good look at him. She could swear it’s…

No. It can’t be.

She falls asleep in his arms. When she awakes, he is gone. She is leaning against a pine tree.

Her neighbors, Miss Caroline and Mister Danny, are patting her hands and cheeks.

“Wake up!” Miss Caroline is hollering. “Wake up! Come back to us!”

She opens her heavy eyes. They take her home. They immerse her in a hot bath. The doctor says she has a few bruised ribs and a minor concussion, but the baby is okay.

She is brought back to life with prayers, chicken soup, and aspirin.

Her mother sits beside her and sobs. “I’m so sorry I yelled at you,” she says. “Don’t ever leave me again.”

“I’m sorry, Mama,” the girl says. “I’m so sorry.”

They exchange embraces.

Then, her mother has something else to say. She asks her daughter a question for which the girl cannot find an answer.

“Sweetie,” she says. “Where did you find Daddy’s coat?”

“What do you mean?” the girl says.

“That wool coat, where’d you find it? I got rid of that ugly coat years ago. Your father hasn’t worn it since before you were born. How on earth did you get it?”

The girl buries her face in the wool. She smells it. She cries.

Maybe there are some things better left unexplained.

Anyway, that was a lifetime ago. Today, the girl has a head of white, and four adult children who revere her.

This year, those children and their families will gather at her house for Christmas supper. They will eat, open gifts, and share memories.

Then, the old woman will do what she has done every year since her first child. She will tell a ghost story.

She will tell the kids she sustained head trauma, bruised ribs, but her baby remained unharmed.

And she will admit that even though her memory recalls one story, she’s not sure if it’s the right one. She isn’t certain about details, and things only get fuzzier with age.

Then, she will stop talking. She will walk to the hall closet and show them a shrink-wrapped wool coat. She will smile and say:

“No matter how bad things get, I know someone way up there loves and watches out for me.”

May this Christmas Eve be one for the books.

35 comments

  1. Brenda Belvin - December 24, 2018 7:10 am

    Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Pamela McEachern - December 24, 2018 7:12 am

    I have known there were Angels in my life at serious times and there was nothing logical to explain them, only belief that God had put them there for me. I believe

    Peace and Love from Birmingham 💫

    Reply
    • Naomi Storey - December 24, 2018 11:56 am

      Pamela, I thought that I might hear back from you. I live in Powder Springs, GA., but I am from Birmingham and most of my family is there. My daughter graduated from McEachern HS and I subbed there for 19 years.

      Reply
      • Pamela McEachern - December 24, 2018 3:26 pm

        Hi Naomi I may be distantly related to them but I pronounce my name McCarron. I have heard so many different ways too. Thank you for reaching out, I use to know a Steve Storey and his wife from Birmingham, very nice people.
        I hope you and yours’ have a Blessed Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!

        Reply
  3. Estelle Davis - December 24, 2018 9:23 am

    May this Christmas help us remember the joys of the past. Tell “old family stories “. May we leave the electronics off. May we appreciate each other. Some of us may not be around next year so let us enjoy being with each other now. Let’s remember the birth of our Lord and be thankful for our savior. He has made us a part of His family. Amen

    Reply
  4. Carol Stern - December 24, 2018 9:57 am

    ❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  5. Kristine Wehrheim - December 24, 2018 10:06 am

    Merry Christmas- I hope there are angels my parents recently joined their forces and I am missing them 💕

    Reply
  6. dragons4me3 - December 24, 2018 11:38 am

    Loved it!

    Reply
  7. Sharon Kay - December 24, 2018 12:02 pm

    Love love love it! Thank you for this story! I believe they’re Angels amoungst us! Every day of our lives! 💖💖💖
    Merry Christmas Sean!

    Reply
  8. Karen - December 24, 2018 12:34 pm

    My father died very suddenly. His name was Henry, but everyone called him Hank. My first grandchild was born after he died, and my daughter named him Henry. When he was three, he told his mother he had a dream, and “that man told me your tummy would get big.”
    “What man?,”she asked.
    “His name was Hank,” he answered.
    A month later, my daughter learned she was pregnant.
    There are definitely angels, and they work in mysterious and magical ways.
    Such a beautiful story. Thank you.

    Reply
  9. Cathi - December 24, 2018 1:09 pm

    Sean, I needed this one. Thank you & Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  10. Gail Stewart - December 24, 2018 1:25 pm

    Please tell me this is true!

    Reply
  11. Carl Wagner - December 24, 2018 1:28 pm

    Thank you, I needed this story this specific morning.
    Have a Blessed Christmas!
    In Christian Hope!

    Reply
  12. Jim Curry - December 24, 2018 1:41 pm

    Merry Christmas to you and yours Sean, thank you for the gift of your stories!

    Reply
  13. Jill Byrd - December 24, 2018 1:55 pm

    Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  14. Louise - December 24, 2018 2:26 pm

    Thank you, I miss my Pop so much. So many happy memories.

    Reply
  15. Diane - December 24, 2018 2:59 pm

    I have one of those angels who watches over me too. Thank you for this today. Thank you.

    Reply
  16. Joy - December 24, 2018 3:15 pm

    Thank you Sean…once more your story brought tears to my eyes…I do believe in angels…and guardian angels are not always Heavenly ones like Gabriel, but our own earthly ones. What a marvelous Christmas story….may we share our love for Christ….He shared His love for us on the cross of Calvary. Merry Christmas to everyone!

    Reply
  17. Janie F. - December 24, 2018 3:22 pm

    Amazing story Sean, beautifully written. I believe in miracles, I do I do!!!

    Reply
  18. Jan - December 24, 2018 3:23 pm

    Glorious!!! Just what I needed today! I Believe!

    Reply
  19. Pat - December 24, 2018 3:58 pm

    These are my favorite stories…they just confirm my belief in angels! As Karen wrote, her three year old grandson told his mother that he had a dream about a man named Hank whom he had never met. How else would a three year old know this if he had not had a “dream visit” from an angel?
    Some things just cannot be explained……………….

    Reply
  20. Jack Darnell - December 24, 2018 4:22 pm

    Ahhhh the stories held in ’em North Carolina mountains. and that ’58 Chevy Impala could get a newbie in trouble in snow, ‘ats fer danged sure. Wonderful story for Christmas. THANKS my friend and a MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours (again)
    From the banks of the overflowing Peace River, wauchula, FL.
    Sherry & jack

    Reply
  21. Patricia Gibson - December 24, 2018 5:14 pm

    Amen!

    Reply
  22. Debbie Britt - December 24, 2018 5:18 pm

    I don’t know if you read these comments or not but just wanted to tell you again how precious some of what you write about is! I believe in miracles because I have experienced some too! Merry Christmas Sean!! God bless you!

    Reply
  23. Karen Irby - December 24, 2018 6:25 pm

    Sean, Merry Christmas to you, Jamie, Mama, Thel & Otis, and all those you love! God bless!

    Reply
  24. Mary C. Hoffert - December 24, 2018 6:28 pm

    I love all of your postings..never ever stop!
    God Bless You and all of Your Family!
    Peace from MCH… .living in the “Steel City of Colorado!!”

    Reply
  25. Sue Cronkite - December 24, 2018 6:47 pm

    Just right for Christmas Eve.

    Reply
  26. Becky Comer - December 24, 2018 9:53 pm

    Merry Christmas from Okaloosa County FL, Sean. We love to read your daily stories, especially today. We believe in angels and miracles as they happen every day to someone. Keep on sharing with us all in 2019!

    Reply
  27. Shelton A. - December 24, 2018 10:35 pm

    Thanks for lift up. I was feeling pretty blue. God knows what you need to see.

    Reply
  28. Judy Kate - December 24, 2018 10:57 pm

    ❤️
    I believe!

    Reply
  29. Debby Haddock - December 25, 2018 3:00 am

    I love your stories on love and faith.

    Reply
  30. Maria Linkhart - December 25, 2018 3:34 am

    I went to a Christmas party and lo and behold there was an accordion player and I thought of you. It was spectacular.

    Reply
  31. Edna B. - December 25, 2018 12:55 pm

    What a lovely Christmas story. I believe in angels. They’ve helped me out a time or two. Merry Christmas Sean. Hugs. Edna B.

    Reply
  32. SuzanneB - December 26, 2018 3:12 pm

    Sweet sweet story of hope…. Angels among us. I believe!

    Reply
  33. John - December 29, 2018 8:20 pm

    You are a magnificent storyteller. I love to tell stories in my work but buddy, you are amazing. Your work is fulfilling and inspiring. Thank you, from a storyteller of a lesser level.

    Reply

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