Hi Bradley (age 9), your mom told me you were recently asking about the real meaning of Christmas. Allow me to tell you a story:
It all started at midnight. There was a blizzard. The wind howled so hard that it whistled. The motor inn’s neon sign was glowing like a Technicolor lighthouse in the storm. NO VACANCY, the sign read.
In the parking lot were snow-encrusted Packards, Plymouths, Fords, Chryslers, and chrome-bumpered DeSotos, crammed together like hogs at a trough.
Folks had been saying this was the worst snowstorm to hit rural Oklahoma. Maybe ever. And it was definitely the worst year of all time.
There was a global war starting, an economic depression, and dust storms the size of major continents were swallowing entire cities.
The Ford pickup pulled into the motel parking lot and eased to a stop. The young man behind the wheel was unshaven and tired. His name was Joe.
Joe glanced at his pregnant wife and forced a weary smile.
“Wait here, Mary,” he said. “Maybe they’ll have a room for us.”
“I think we should keep driving,” said Mary. “The sign says they’re full.”
“Can’t,” said Joe. “We’re on E.”
The young couple was on their way to California, looking for work. Mary and Joe had tried nine different motor inns that night; all booked.
The motel clerk was an unfriendly little snit. “Can’t you read English, kid?” the man said. “The sign says no vacancy.”
“Yes, sir. But it’s my wife, she’s pregnant.”
“And whose fault is that?”
“I said we’re booked.”
“We’ll pay double.”
“I may have some room.”
In a few moments the clerk led them to a garage behind the inn. The barn had a shingled roof and a Beech-Nut advertisement painted on the broad side.
The clerk threw open the doors to reveal a shed full of chickens. Also, a goat.
Joe took one look at the barn floor, covered in a film of chicken droppings, and he said, “We’ll take it.”
Within minutes, Joe had pulled the truck inside and closed the door. The wind moaned. The snow came down in quilts. The chickens were very curious. The goat was already chewing on Joe’s rear tire.
Mary waddled out of the passenger seat and yelped in pain.
And although Joe might not have been the sharpest fork in the drawer, he definitely knew something baby-related was happening “down there” because (a) Mary’s lower half was soaked, and (b) Mary was strangling him.
“Mary!” he shouted. “What can I do to help?”
But sadly, she had no instructions for him. Because remember, these were teenagers we’re talking about. Joe was a construction worker, not an obstetrician. Mary wasn’t even out of high school.
So he fetched hot water from the motel clerk, and plenty of rags. All he could do was yell, “Push, Mary!”
After an hour of labor, several motel guests had gathered to see what all the shouting was about. Verily, there was a great multitude of rubberneckers.
Joe held Mary’s hand, kneeling before her, smiling, and encouraging. And the irony here is that this baby wasn’t even his. Yet there was Joe, crouching beside his girl, cheering her on, ready to be a father come hell or high taxes. If that ain’t love.
“That’s it, Mary!” he said. “Keep pushing!”
“Joe!” she screamed. “I cant!”
“You can do it!”
“It hurts, Joe!”
“Whoa. That’s a huge head.”
“Here it comes, Joe!”
“Think I’m going to ralph.”
But thankfully, he didn’t ralph. Joe caught the infant in his arms and held the babe against his chest. And the whole world stopped moving. The snow outside ceased falling. The wind quit screaming. It was the most holy creature Joe had ever seen.
“Quick,” said Joe. “We need something to put him in.”
On cue, a few onlookers started digging through the garage. One man found a crate filled with oil cans. And so it was, they wrapped the baby in swaddling shop rags, and placed him in a peach crate.
Meanwhile, the crowd surrounding the barn had grown. There were three traveling vacuum salesmen, who had traveled from afar. There were cattle farmers from fields nearby, who had been keeping watch over their angus by night. There was some kid playing a drum.
Everyone gathered around the barn’s warm light in rapt silence. The cowboys removed their hats, an old woman prayed, and the innkeeper sniffled.
Everyone was exclaiming, “Glory to God! We’re sure as heck glad that’s all over!”
Anyway Bradley, something very similar to the events I just described happened about two thousand years ago in what is now present-day Palestine. It changed the world forever.
And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
Norma+Den🇿🇦 - December 22, 2021 9:24 am
Oh my that’s the sweetest Christmas story I’ve heard. Thank you so much. I love the three vacuum cleaner salesmen from afar, the cowboys watching their Angus by night. You’ve really hit the sweet spot with this one, & finally got me into the Christmas spirit. God bless you one & all.
Barbara Zuleski - December 22, 2021 11:14 am
Blessings on your and your wife this season of miracles
Paul McCutchen - December 22, 2021 11:28 am
Only you could put a different twist on an unforgettable story.
Sandra Mattucci - December 22, 2021 11:43 am
Thank you for THIS gift…write-on Sean
Bette - December 22, 2021 12:17 pm
Merry Christmas Sean and Jamie! You bring me joy and hope every day!
Te Burt - December 22, 2021 12:18 pm
Did it again, Sean. Nailed it. And I agree: three vacuum cleaner salesmen – pure genius. And all innkeepers are greedy? You are a master of the absurd touch that makes it real – because the world is absurd. Thank you, God, for watching over your silly children, or the human race would never gotten out the cave!
Sandy Fopiano - December 22, 2021 12:22 pm
Sweet Story !! Thank you, Sean !! Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful wife……
Jacqueline Greenfield - December 22, 2021 12:39 pm
You’ve made the story so real. Joe had to use oily rags and a crate. We can see how Joseph felt using half-eaten hay and a manger covered in animal slobber! It makes this miracle more miraculous (if that is even possible).
Chasity Davis Ritter - December 22, 2021 12:42 pm
Thank you for setting it in Oklahoma where I’m from. I’m sharing it in my Facebook to make others smile like I did today. Merry Christmas to one and all but especially to my friend Sean.
Ed (Bear) - December 22, 2021 1:27 pm
You silly… and funny! Thanks for the grins!
Harriet White - December 22, 2021 1:36 pm
That’s hilarious! I love it
Shelton A. - December 22, 2021 2:06 pm
One heck of a Christmas story! You captured the essence of the moment. I doubt Bradley has ever heard of a Packard, though (maybe not even his Mom). Merry Christmas, y’all!
beachdreamer1 - December 22, 2021 2:50 pm
God bless you! As one comment said, only you could put such a different spin on the real Christmas story. What a gift you have Sean Dietrich! Thanks for sharing it with all of us. Christmas blessings to you and Jamie…Peace and good Will to all!
Carolyn Waldron - December 22, 2021 3:04 pm
Excellent, Sean!!! The best holy Christmas to you and yours!
NancyB - December 22, 2021 3:15 pm
Thank you for touching my heart this morning before I even had my first cup of cocoa! Many Christmas Blessings for you and Jamie!
Brad Campbell - December 22, 2021 3:24 pm
Thank you! It doesn’t get any more real than that!
Ruth Mitchell - December 22, 2021 3:56 pm
I always love a good parable, and this is one of the best. Maybe the writer got a lesson from the Master Teacher!!
Hope A Ewans - December 22, 2021 4:13 pm
I’m sure glad Joe didn’t ralph! Merry Christmas to you and Jamie. I love you both <3
Sara m allen - December 22, 2021 5:35 pm
Great one. Made me cry. Keep up the good work. You found your calling
Sean of the South: Christmas Story | The Trussville Tribune - December 22, 2021 5:46 pm
[…] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]
Joyce+hodder - December 22, 2021 6:31 pm
That may be the sweetest Christmas story I’ve ever heard.
Stacey Wallace - December 22, 2021 6:44 pm
Love to Jamie. Merry Christmas!
Sandee Culliton - December 22, 2021 6:47 pm
Yes, you made it very relatable to this era . Thank you for your writings!
Sandi. - December 22, 2021 8:06 pm
Sean, best wishes for a peaceful, pleasant, wonderful Christmas to you and Jamie!
Nick - December 22, 2021 8:53 pm
Sean, Merry Christmas!
As one of the many Catholics who follow you, Our Blessed Mother, Mary, because she was born free of original sin and did not sin thereafter, was exempt from the ancient curse of Adam and Eve, and therefore her labor to deliver Our Lord was easy and entirely painless.
Mary is the new ‘Eve’ and Jesus the new Adam. She was literally the uncorrupted Ark of the New Covenant, and is the Mother of God, as well as the Mother of all Christians. Mary’s role in the Family is to bring each soul to Christ!!
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for Us!!!
Rob Mason - December 22, 2021 9:53 pm
Once again, beautifully written. It challenges us to think about where would we be in the story if it were today.
Linda Moon - December 22, 2021 11:57 pm
You’re allowed to tell me a story anytime, even at this late time for my reading it today. Joe and Mary seem very familiar…and as I continue to read, it ALL seems familiar. Thank you for telling the Christmas story. He was born unto Charlie and us.
Karen Snyder - December 23, 2021 3:48 am
Surely, God is smiling. ❤️
Nell Thomas - December 23, 2021 8:11 am
Thank you Sean for sharing this gift.
Merry Christmas. “O Happy Day.”
Karen+Erwin-Brown - December 23, 2021 1:36 pm
Merry Christmas. You do crack me up.
Patricia Gibson - December 23, 2021 10:20 pm
Excellent explanation 🎄❤️
M baugh - December 25, 2021 5:14 pm
Love all of your stories thank you
CHARALEEN WRIGHT - January 21, 2022 4:50 pm