My Christmas Story

Several years ago, shortly after my wife and I were married, we had to do the traditional holiday travel. At this time we lived in Indiana where my family lived and wife’s family lived in Wisconsin. The plan was simple to us, Christmas Eve with her family and Christmas day with mine. Our house was in between the two and we could spend Christmas morning at our own home. So off we went, by Christmas Eve morning we were in Wisconsin. By the time we arrived, it had become unbearably cold. Yet, we were young and unwilling to waver from our plans. Shortly after dinner we loaded up the car and headed back toward our home on that cold Christmas Eve evening.
Our journey led us down to the city of Rockford, Illinois where we caught interstate 90 to Chicago. Shortly before we turned onto 90 we saw a sign in front of a bank showing the temperature to be a minus one-degree. My wife and I both agreed the wind chill must be substantially lower. We were just thankful we didn’t have to be out in it.
About two miles after taking the interstate highway we noticed a car on the right side of the road with its hazard lights blinking. A short distance from the car we saw a man walking. I quickly sped by wondering what was going on for this man. My wife, who is far more thoughtful than I am, shouted for us to turn the car around and help him out. Without thinking I was crossing the median and was headed back the other way.
Here I am on Christmas Eve at around ten at night in temperatures below zero driving to help someone I had never met. My wife and I agreed for someone to be out under these circumstances it must be a real emergency. Quickly we pulled over and picked him up.
He was a middle aged African American male from Chicago. He was also headed home for Christmas when his car died. Now just a two hour drive from home he was unsure what to do.
At first we took him to a nearby phone and let him make some calls. No one was home who could help and all those who were home could offer no valuable help. While he was on the phone my wife and I agreed to take him home. Although we were not sure what that would mean, we wanted to help. He accepted our offer and hopped back in the car.
For the next couple hours we told him about who we were and various boring details about our life. He quietly listened and then told us all about himself. I can’t remember his name or much of anything he told us. It was just simple random small talk.
After a while he said we could just drop him off at a store and someone could come get him. Nonsense. We have come this far; we are going all the way. And that is what we did. We took an exit unknown to me, then down a strange street into a dark neighborhood with rows and rows of houses. “Here it is,” he stated and we pulled the car over. I do remember it was 12:05 a.m. when I opened the car door. Without hesitation we all stepped out and said, “Merry Christmas.” We even began to hug one another. Then across the street he ran to the house with the lights on and a family waiting inside.
My wife and I got back in the car and drove a while without talking. If we did talk, I sure don’t remember it. The rest of the evening was spent driving the remaining two hours home – quietly thinking. I thought about it all that night and I still think about it today. To this day I have only told this story once. We didn’t do it for self-glorification. We did it because it was the right thing to do at Christmas.
My hope today, as I stare out on this cold world, is that we would all live like everyday was Christmas.

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